Minnesota has decided to pay its homeowners to replace their lawns with bee-friendly wildflowers in order to repopulate the bees.
Homeowners in Minnesota could benefit financially if they decide to remove their lawns and replace it with flowers to attract bees.
Lawns to Legumes is a new program that was launched in 2019, which has set aside $900,000 annually to pay homeowners to replace their traditional lawns with bee-friendly wildflowers, clover and native grasses. This is a part of a larger effort of the state to repopulate the declining bee population.
Although the program hopes to repopulate all types of bees with the wildflowers and native grasses, the main hope is that these unmanicured lawns will specifically attract and help the rusty patched bumblebee.
This type of bee was once popular across North America, but in March 2017 the bee species (Bombus affinis) was formally listed as endangered.
Since the mid-1990s, the fuzzy striped critters have suffered an 87% decline in population due to numerous factors including climate change, pesticide exposure, habitat loss, population fragmentation and diseases which are transmitted from infected commercial domesticated honeybees.
For any homeowners interested in converting their lawns into a haven for bees, the program will cover up to $350 of the cost. However, in areas with “high potential,” it is possible to request a higher grant to support the rusty patched bees.
State Rep. Kelly Morrison introduced the bill into the House and has stated: “I have gotten a ton of emails and so much feedback from people who are interested in this.
“People are really thinking about how they can help.”
According to Minnesota Public Radio (MPR), the program will last for three years and it is expected that there will be 20 workshops across the state.
The state has also launched a Lawns to Legumes page which is dedicated to this program, it details further information on the grants and what learning opportunities are available.
For any homeowners interested in getting involved in the pollinator habitat program, they can apply for funds which are prioritised for particular areas in which this type of bumblebee lives in.
Dan Shaw, the senior ecologist for the state Board of Water and Soil Resources, told MPR in August 2019: “For people that are within the rusty patched bumblebee zone they’ll be eligible for $500.
“People in our secondary pollinator corridors in the state will be eligible for $350, and then people outside of those two areas will be eligible for $150.”
If you are not eligible or do not live in Minnesota, you can still make your yard more attractive to bees! For example, you can stop using chemicals on your lawn, grow a wide range of different flowering plants and leave a couple of small spots of bare soil for bees to make their nests.
If you can’t give up your lawn space due to homeowner associations or for aesthetic reasons, then you can at least try making a small and undisturbed corner full of tall grass, sticks and general chaos which should make a happy enough home for bees to relocate to.
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