Land-Use Change Rapidly Reducing Critical Honey Bee Habitat in Dakotas
(U.S. Geological Survey) The Northern Great Plains of North and South Dakota, which support over 40 percent of United States commercial honey bee colonies, are quickly becoming less conducive to commercial beekeeping as a result of land-use changes, according to a U.S. Geological Survey study published today.
The USGS scientists found that landscape features favored by beekeepers for honey bee colony, or apiary, locations are decreasing in the region, and crops actively avoided by beekeepers, such as corn and soybeans, are becoming more common in areas with higher apiary density. Areas that showed high levels of grassland loss and high apiary density were mostly in central and southern North Dakota and the eastern half of South Dakota.
The study is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“Our study identifies areas within the Northern Great Plains that managers can target for honey bee habitat conservation,” Otto said.
This research is important because one of the key goals of the Pollinator Health Task Force strategy is to establish 7 million acres of pollinator habitat by 2020.
According to the report, the Northern Great Plains have served as an unofficial refuge for commercial beekeepers because of their abundance of uncultivated pasture and rangelands, and cultivated agricultural crops such as alfalfa, sunflower and canola that provided forage for bees. READ MORE Abstract (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences)