Cross-posted from the White House blog:
Pollinators are critical to the Nation’s economy, food security, and environmental health. Honey bee pollination alone adds more than $15 billion in value to agricultural crops each year, and helps ensure that our diets include ample fruits, nuts, and vegetables. This tremendously valuable service is provided to society by honey bees, native bees and other insect pollinators, birds, and bats.
But pollinators are struggling. Last year, beekeepers reported losing about 40% of honey bee colonies, threatening the viability of their livelihoods and the essential pollination services their bees provide to agriculture. Monarch butterflies, too, are in jeopardy. The number of overwintering Monarchs in Mexico’s forests has declined by 90% or more over the past two decades, placing the iconic annual North American Monarch migration at risk. Read more »
Big Sky Montana could be Big Sweet Montana. Check back next Thursday for another fascinating look at another state and the 2012 Census of Agriculture!
The Census of Agriculture is the most complete account of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. Every Thursday USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will highlight new Census data and the power of the information to shape the future of American agriculture.
When you think of Montana agriculture, wheat and cattle come to mind. And why shouldn’t they? After all, our state ranks third in wheat production and tenth in cattle and calves inventory, according to the 2012 Census of Agriculture. That year, the combined market value of ag products sold for grains, oilseeds, dry beans, and dry peas was $1,787,162,000 and cattle and calves was $1,783,908,000. Montana’s total market value of agricultural products sold per farm was $151,031; which was up 59 percent from the previous Census of Agriculture in 2007, while the U.S. average was up 39 percent.
We have 28,008 farms and ranches in our state with an average size of 2,134 acres, which is down 5 percent from 2007. Female principal operators of farms and ranches account for 15 percent of the total principal operators in the state while American Indians account for just 5 percent. Like most other states, the average age of our producers continues to increase to 58.9 years, climbing 1.1 years from 2007. Read more »
Native American high school students get “up close and personal” with honey bees at the USDA Carl Hayden Bee Research Center in Tucson, Arizona, as part of their participation in the Native American Summer Institute, a long-running collaboration between the University of Arizona and the bee lab. The curriculum helps the students learn math and science as they use two of the lab’s computer models to learn about honey bee colony health and develop plans to start a beekeeping business.
This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.
There’s nothing like a little “hands-on” activity to help students learn. And what better way to encourage math and science education than to give students an opportunity for the ultimate “hands-on” experience: working with honey bees.
That’s what Native American high school students are doing at the USDA Carl Hayden Bee Research Center in Tucson, Arizona. At the lab, operated by USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS), researchers study honey bee nutrition and health to ensure that these insects can effectively pollinate billions of dollars’ worth of fruits and vegetables each year. Read more »
An alfalfa leafcutting bee, Megachile rotundata, on an alfalfa flower. This bee is widely used for pollination by alfalfa seed growers.
There’s a lot of buzz right now about honey bees—their health and their future.
The good news, where honey bees are concerned, is that there is good news. Just last month, the results of the annual winter bee loss survey were released, and losses of managed honey bee colonies from all causes were 23.2 percent for the past winter—a significant drop from the 30.5 percent loss reported for the winter of 2012-13.
But the really good news is that when it comes to pollination, honey bees aren’t the only game in town. Read more »
The volunteers worked four hours to get the 710 plants in the ground. NRCS photo.
What’s the buzz going on in Princeton, Ill.? A food fest for our pollinator friends, that’s what.
This is a People’s Garden designed specifically for pollinators such as bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. The idea came to Ellen Starr, area biologist with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, while walking her dog one day.
“Populations of many pollinators are in serious decline,” said Starr, a fan of pollinators. “So what better way to educate the public about the issue than create a garden?” Read more »
Loveless uses smoke to calm the bees when he opens the boxes for inspection. Smoking the bees allows the beekeeper to work in the hive while the colony's defensive response is interrupted.
This post is part of a disaster assistance program feature series on the USDA blog. Check back every Wednesday as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s Farm Service Agency.
Larry Loveless of Gillespie, Ill., works full-time at a factory by day, but spends his evenings and free time beekeeping.
The harsh winter of 2013 brought devastating losses to many livestock producers, including beekeepers. Loveless lost more than half of his colonies due to several days of sub-zero temperatures. He started with 20 colonies and was down to only seven by the end of the winter.
“I’ve lost a few colonies here and there, but I’ve never experienced this horrific of a loss,” said Loveless, whose hives were already at a disadvantage because of last year’s drought. Read more »