MADISON (WKOW) --- There's a lot of buzz among researchers about a rare bee living at the U-W Madison Arboretum. State agriculture officials have a new pollinator protection plan to save bees from pesticides that are killing them off across Wisconsin.
The Rusty Batch Bumble Bee was first discovered at the Arboretum a few years ago and researchers said it works harder than any other bee species. They said its an important part of our State's agriculture.
“They are crucial,” said Susan Carpenter, ranger unit coordinator at the U-W Madison Arboretum. “They are important for our food system.”
Wisconsin pollinator populations have been declining for years, endangering the growth of apples, cranberries, cherries and many other fruits and vegetables that rely on bees and other insects to help pollinate to fertilize them. The new plan recommends actions such as increasing roadside plantings and pollinator-friendly home gardens, but sets no targets for decreasing the use of a controversial class of agricultural pesticides, according to a recent report.
The Wisconsin bee colony has one of the highest death rates across the nation. The Arboretum is tracking the Rusty Patch Bee and hopes to see more of them because bees pollinate close to $55 million worth of Wisconsin crops annually.