Bill would ensure habitat preservation for bees, pollinators

In this photo provided by Xerces Society, a bumblebee flies by a flower in this undated photo. Wild bees in the Midwest seem to be dwindling in an alarming manner, possibly from disease and parasites.
AP Photo/Xerces Society, Eter Schroeder

A conference committee has approved a plan to improve habitat for bees and other pollinators.

Pollinators around the country are suffering from a complex set of problems that is causing their numbers to plummet. This could hurt agriculture, which relies on insects to pollinate crops.

Rep. Jeanne Poppe, DFL-Austin, sponsored a bill that requires the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Agriculture to ensure they keep pollinators in mind as they are restoring habitat.

One way to help is by choosing plants to ensure there is always something blooming.

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"We have bees that have colony collapse. We have bees that are impacted by pesticides. We have just a reduction in the number of pollinators, so this is an attempt to say throughout the state we have the right habitat," Poppe said.

"We lengthen the season for the habitat, and we're able to then have pollinators who are able to go from place to place throughout the state and do what they need to do."

The measure also calls for signs to educate people visiting the planted areas about the problems pollinators are facing. The bill provides $300,000 over the next two years.

"As they're either restoring state lands or they're doing things in ditches, that they're cognitive of what they need in order to add to the habitat in the restoration rather than to decrease it," Poppe said.