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Prairie plant blossoms with bins in background
FEED A BEE: Blossoms on prairie plants growing around a bin site are a source of nectar for many different pollinators.

3 Feed A Bee projects supporting honeybees in Dakotas

Bayer celebrates establishment of Feed A Bee initiatives in all 50 states.

Bayer says its Feed A Bee initiative has reached its goal of awarding grants supporting diverse forage for honey bees and other pollinators in all 50 states. The 50th recipient awarded recently was Gateway to the Arctic Camp in Talkeetna, Alaska.

There are three recipients in North Dakota and South Dakota:

1. Community garden. The United Prairie Foundation proposed a People for the Prairie project located on Red River Valley & Western Railroad Co. owned land in the town of Sheldon, N.D. The project is to create a community garden with a restored prairie eco-system.

The 5-acre project will use deep rooted, highly diverse, local eco-type prairie plants in the restoration process that will keep the swale in excellent shape. This will provide years of low maintenance flood protection and a kaleidoscope of wildflowers for bees.

The People for the Prairie project will have a community garden featuring a high tunnel greenhouse used for both extended growing season and propagation of vegetable and prairie plants. A sweet corn patch will be grown to help fund operations through a partnership with Plains Grain and Agronomy, with corn being served in a People for the Prairie Sweet Corn Festival. The People for the Prairie — Community Garden/ Grow Club is a long-term project targeted at expanding people’s knowledge of the need for pollinator habitat. The project is a true community partnership that creates public awareness and will educate visitors on the values of pollinator habitat, wetlands, grasslands and riparian areas, while also illustrating the importance of maintaining soil health and the interconnection with water quality and the overall health of our natural resources.

2. Free little library, pollinator garden and apple trees. The Mountrail Pioneers 4-H Club, Stanley, N.D, is working on a project that provides education, leadership development, community service and a source of food. One of the club members, Vanessa Fransen, came up with the idea to install a free little library as well as plant a pollinator garden and plant apple trees in the community park.

The free library encourages reading, education and sense of community and is a place to share information and materials. The apple trees provide a food source and serve as habitat for wildlife. The apples that are grown will be donated to the local food pantry and given to the elderly, low income families and anyone who needs extra food.

As part of a rural agricultural community, the group believes that the pollinators are essential to their crops, which is a way of life and economy in their area.

The pollinator garden will also be a place to educate the youth about nature, life cycles, plants, horticulture and wildlife. They also plan to replace trees, flowering shrubs and perennial plants in the park that have reached the end of their life cycle. They plan on having meetings and events in the park, with Extension agents and local gardening and wildlife experts teaching the children and community members.

3. Pollinator habitat. The South Dakota Department of Game, Fish, and Parks (SDGFP) proposed to establish pollinator habitat on state-owned lands in northeast South Dakota. Included in the area are McPherson, Edmunds, Faulk, Brown, Spink, Marshall, Day, Roberts, Grant, Deuel, Clark, Codington and Hamlin counties.

The sites were selected from the more than 90,000 acres of wildlife habitat currently managed by the SDGFP. Each site is also being planted and managed by the SDGFP.

“Bayer has awarded more than $650,000 for pollinator-focused planting projects over the last three years,” says Becky Langer, project manager, Bayer North American Bee Care Program. “We’re now connected to nearly 170 organizations all over the country who are thinking critically about how to diversify forage for pollinators, have put that plan to action and, equally important, have integrated educational components encouraging their local community to get involved.”

Bayer, a pharmaceutical and life sciences company, makes many crop protection products for use in agriculture, including insecticides. Some studies — which Bayer disputes — have concluded that neonicotinoid insecticides, a class of systemic insecticides, are harmful to bees. The European Union and several states in the U.S. have proposed banning or restricting them. Bayer contends that the lack of forage and habitat is the main threat to bees.

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