UPDATE: USDA works with landowners to improve honey bee populati - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: USDA works with landowners to improve honey bee population in WI

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PHOTO: USDA.gov PHOTO: USDA.gov

GREEN COUNTY (WKOW) -- The future of the food supply in the U.S. could depend on the health of our honey bees. Bee pollination supports all kinds of agriculture, not just honey, but populations have been declining in recent years.

Now, the USDA is working with landowners in Wisconsin to find better food sources for the bees. Conservation experts say about two-thirds of the nation's bees spend the summer in the upper Midwest.

The agency's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is providing nearly $3 million in technical and financial assistance for farmers and ranchers to implement conservation practices that will improve food sources for honey bees in five midwestern states, including Wisconsin.

It's the first initiative focused on honey bees.

"Their pollinator services impact about $15 billion worth of crop production in the us every year," says resource conservationist Matt Otto, with USDA. "One in three mouthfuls of our food come from crops impacted by bees, that need the health of bees to produce, so it's vitally important to our agriculture."

About 80 landowners in Wisconsin will be receiving money from the USDA, adding up to $700,000. James MacDonald, who owns 120 acres in rural Green County, is one of them. He plans to expand his 30 acres of relic prairie with the money.

"The prairie is in blossom all summer," MacDonald tells 27 News. "There are hundreds of prairie plants and they sort of pass off who's in bloom, so from the end of the snow until the snow falls again there's always something in bloom."

MacDonald says between his neighbors, there are about 100 hives within two miles of his property so many buzz to the prairie to find their food.

Experts say you don't have to own a lot of land to help out the bees. You can plant flowers or other plants at home that attract honey bees to help their population thrive.

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MADISON (WKOW) -- The USDA is working with landowners to help improve the health of honey bees in Wisconsin.

The agency's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is providing nearly $3 million in technical and financial assistance for interested farmers and ranchers to implement conservation practices that will provide improve food sources for honey bees in five midwestern states, including Wisconsin.

Experts say bee pollination supports about $15 billion of agricultural production in the U.S. so it's important to focus on ways to keep bee populations alive. Beekeepers have been reporting colony losses since 2006.

Tonight on 27 News at 5 & 6, we'll explain more about the importance of honey bees in our environment and how the USDA is working to keep them healthy.

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