By: Charlene Cristobal
June 6, 2014
MONTICELLO, Fla. -- Florida is the nation's leader in honey, produces 40% of the world's oranges and is home to 1/3 of the country's bees. But the bees are dying at an alarming rate.
Master Beekeeper with the University of Florida, David Hall says, "We have problems right now with bee losses. The average bee keeper lost 23% of their bees last year."
What does that mean for us, non-beekeepers? Without the pollination of bees, we wouldn't have blueberries or, Hall says, "Haagen Dazs, every single flavor, is by bees. If you got up this morning and had orange juice, coffee, that was pollinated by bee. The coffee, the vanilla, you name it. Raspberries, all the fruits that we have are generally, one way or another...are pollinated one way or another, in some fashion."
Enter, the United States Department of Agriculture, the bee's knight in shining armor. Through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQUIP), they're giving Florida farmers and ranchers $300,000 to help create better living environments for the bees. And hopefully, prevent future bees from dying.
Hall says, "We're looking for things for the bees to consume and pollinate, and to do during the course of the year. So, as a farmer goes through different times, they can have different things growing."
Farmers have until July 18, 2014 to sign up for the program.