Bee 'pastures' Could Help Agriculture

WASHINGTON, Aug. 4 (UPI) — Human-tended “bee pastures” of wildflowers are an environmentally friendly way to produce generations of healthy bees to aid agriculture, U.S. researchers say.

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture say pesticide-free human-tended pastures of a half-acre each can be easily established and would be easy to maintain, a department release said Wednesday.

Bee pasturing isn’t a new idea, researchers say, and two bee businesses are already using the findings to propagate more bees.

One species of bee that pastures would help is the blue orchard bee, a gentle variety that helps the nation’s premiere pollinator, the European honey bee.

Blue orchard bee populations could increase four- or five-fold annually in a well-designed, well-managed bee pasture, researchers estimate.

Interest in pastures is high in California, where wildflowers, particularly early flowering annuals, could bolster populations of blue orchard bees needed to pollinate the state’s vast orchards.

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