- Associated Press - Friday, June 20, 2014

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - The United States Department of Agriculture says North Dakota and South Dakota are two of five states eligible to receive a combined $8 million to help protect declining honey bee populations.

The Conservation Reserve Program incentives will also be offered to farmers and ranchers in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan who establish new habitats for honey bees. The USDA announced the funding Friday.

The program allows for managing or replacing existing vegetation, known as “covers”, with lower cost, high nutrition seed mixes that can support plants that benefit pollinators like the honey bee.

The honey bee population in the country has been declining for decades. The USDA says there were 6 million honey bee colonies in 1947. There are an estimated 2.5 million today.

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