Federal government announces plan to bolster honeybee, butterfly populations

The federal government hopes to reverse America’s declining honeybee and monarch butterfly population by making more federal land bee-friendly, spending more money on research and considering the use of less pesticides, according to a Fox News report.

Bees, which have been hurt by a combination of declining nutrition, mites, diseases and pesticides, provide more than $15 billion in value to the U.S. economy, according to White House science adviser John Holdren.

“Pollinators are struggling,” Holdren said in a blog post, citing a new federal survey that found beekeepers lost more than 40 percent of their colonies last year, although they later recovered by dividing surviving hives.

The plan seeks to restore 7 million acres of bee habit in the next five years. Numerous federal agencies, including the Department of Interior, Housing and Urban Development, and the Department of Transportation, will have to find ways to grow plants on federal lands that are more varied and provide bees adequate nutrition.

This plan has received praise from entomologists.

“Here, we can do a lot for bees, and other pollinators,” University of Maryland entomology professor Dennis vanEnglesdorp, who led the federal bee study that found last year’s large loss. “This is something to get excited and hopeful about. There is really only one hope for bees, and it’s to make sure they spend a good part of the year in safe, healthy environments.”

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