Montana is the second leading honey producer in the country, but honey isn't the only thing we look to bees for. Montana recently joined five other states in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's "Pollinator States" program.
Honey bees pollinate an estimated $15 billion worth of crops annually and in the past few years, the Montana honey bee population has been struggling, especially after this years drought. Now the Feds are stepping in with some much-needed funding.
501,000 different species of bees live in Montana and are so vital to agricultural systems as many of our crops rely on bees as pollinators to set fruit and seed. The "Pollinator States" program gives Montana access to some of the $4 million the USDA recently made available for the program. Officials in Montana say around half a million of that will go to farmers, ranchers and forest landowners in Montana to help with research to protect the crops bees love so much.
This program installment is still in the very early phases, but several beekeepers and farmers have already showed much interest and are eager to get going so they can help find the right treatment for next year's pollinating season.
The USDA is still accepting applications so if you're interested in applying for funding from this program, you can do so here: