Feds propose multi-pronged plan to bolster decline in bees

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By: Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal government hopes to reverse America’s declining honeybee and monarch butterfly populations by making more federal land bee-friendly, spending more on research and considering reductions in pesticide use.

Scientists say bees — crucial to pollinate many crops — have been hurt by a combination of declining nutrition, mites, disease and pesticides.

The plan calls for restoring 7 million acres of bee habitat in the next five years. Numerous federal agencies will have to find ways to grow plants on federal lands that provide better food for bees.

The administration proposes spending $82.5 million on honeybee research in the upcoming budget year, up $34 million from now.

The Environmental Protection Agency will step up studies into the safety of widely used neonicotinoid pesticides, which have been temporarily banned in Europe.