Getting Paid to Plant a Bee Lawn
Honeybees are making a bee line to the new bee lawns popping up across the state of Minnesota. They will then head home to the hive to do an intense waggle dance to tell their sisters all about it.
The project is the brainchild of Marla Spivak, an entomologist at the University of Minnesota. It allows people to do something for the environment, the food chain and for imperiled bees.
Researchers state that the bee lawn grass mix, which is a mixture of traditional lawn grass and low-growing flowers like ironweed, feeds dozens of bee species that would otherwise be hungry. The grass mix is a blend of fine fescue turfgrass, Dutch white clover, self-heal and creeping thyme. This type of bee lawn attracts over 60 bee species, whereas regular turfgrass attracts no bees. The more diverse the mixes, the more bees are drawn to it.
Here's the Minnesota plan in a nutshell in a video that is less than 2 minutes long:
Last year, Minnesota named the Rusty patched bumblebee an official state bee. This species has been decimated, its numbers declining by 87% across the US during the last 20 years according to US Fish and Wildlife Service. It was declared an endangered species in 2017.
Too many natural bee habitats are disappearing in Wisconsin, Minnesota and at least a dozen other US states. In a last-ditch effort to turn the tide and rescue bees from disappearing from the region, there is an attempt to get regular people to nurture bees. Planting “bee lawns” with a blend of bee-friendly flowers and grass feed is the best way to do it.
Habitat loss is the number 1 cause of bee deaths according to the National Academy of Sciences. Lack of pollen and nectar producing flowers, monocultures, overuse of toxic pesticides and climate change all play a role in causing bees to die.
Since one-third of the food we consume is pollinated by honeybees, we should all take note of how our own survival is tied to bees. In the winter of 2018-2019 nearly 38% of honeybees were lost across the US, according to the non-profit Bee Informed Partnership. It is in our best interests to ensure their wellbeing.
The Minnesota program is worth observing, and several other US states including Iowa, Illinois, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, Connecticut, New York, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Washington are very interested in the concept of bee lawn grants.
State legislature pays homeowners $350 per month to plant the special grass mix in their back gardens, with the goal to keep bees buzzing. The grant program launched last year with a $900,000 budget, sourced from state lottery funds. This year they aim to double that amount. This is enough money to pay 300-400 people to become bee hosts, but when the program debuted, 4,000 Minnesotans applied, even though some people argued that the program would put the 3% of adults with bee allergies at risk. Clearly many people see the value of planting bee lawns in exchange for extra monthly cash.
Many of us can do this in our gardens, without being paid to do it, especially if we love bees.
Do you plan to plant a bee lawn or even just a bee flower bed? Share with us over on our Facebook page!
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