Last Tuesday, President Obama unveiled a National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators. The initiatives are already off to a strong start in Iowa.
For 32 year honey bee farmer Curt Bronnenberg and his 4,000 honey bee hives, he’s watched the bee industry change. The population that was once near 6 million has now dwindled to below three million.
"It turned to corn and beans and those aren’t obviously a forage crop for honey bees,” said Bronnenberg. "Some of it is management now you need to pay attention and spend more money on your colony to keep it alive."
Bronnenberg’s also noticed that people’s view of the honey bees have began to change too.
"Just to get these people interested and the research money to figure out these problems, bees seem to take a back stage and they haven’t been looked at as important," said Bronnenberg.
President Obama’s goal for the bees is to reduce their winter loss to no more than 15 percent within the next 10 years. Another big focus of the strategy is to replenish the monarch butterfly population, which has decreased by 90 percent over the last couple of years.
Randy Rollins owns a garden just off of Ingersoll Avenue and he’s taking saving the monarchs into his own hands. Rollins is giving away packets of milk seed plants for free thanks to generous incoming donations.
"I was able to get 300 packets to give away and I’ve given 200 and got more to give away," said Rollins. "It’s got me inspired! There’s so many passionate people that I’ve come in contact with through their request for seeds."
President Obama hopes the strategy increases the butterfly population back above 200 million in their migratory location in Mexico. The strategy also aims to restore an additional 7 million acres of land specifically for pollinators.
"i cant think of anything but positives out of problems with bees has brought a postiive because its aware to the public "
To learn more about the Des Moines Great Monarch Initiative, visit Des Moines Great Monarch Initiative on Facebook or for free milkweed seeds, mail : Randy Rollins, 3333 Grand Avenue Ste #392 Des Moines, IA 50312. Rollins is also at the Beaverdale Farmer’s Market every Tuesday night.
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