Adee then changed gears calling for more land for bee foraging. Forage acreage has decreased, in part, tied to conversion of some of the land to corn production for ethanol fuel. This conversion, Adee says, has driven up bee production costs.

The final speaker, Christi Heintz, piggybacked on Adee’s call for more bee foraging land. Heintz is executive director of the non-profit honey bee research association Project Apis m. based in Paso Robles, Calif. The group funds and directs research to enhance the health and vitality of honey bee colonies while improving crop production.

“Project Apis m. is working on fall and spring seed mixtures for growers who have fallow land to feed honey bees,” Heintz said. “In California, we are seeking public lands to provide forage for honey bees.”

Wildflower seed mixes are very expensive so the organization is developing cost-effective seed mixes which are beneficial to landowners and honey bees. For growers, wildflowers can improve the soil by creating better water penetration and more organic matter.

“Providing honey bee forage is a win-win for all while building bees for crop pollination,” Heintz said.

Pollinators are responsible for $29 billion in U.S. farm income. Nearly $20 billion is directly or indirectly dependent on the honey bee.

“The honey bee is the best bug in the business for pollination. Bees are the lowest paid, hardest-working workforce in agriculture, and bees make honey.”

Busy, healthy bees are vital to agriculture’s success.