USDA spending $3M to feed honeybees in Midwest

MILWAUKEE (AP) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture hopes to help honeybees by giving $3 million to farmers and ranchers in the Upper Midwest to improve pastures.

The USDA announced its new program Tuesday.

Commercial honeybees pollinate about $15 billion worth of agricultural products annually. But they've been in decline for more than a decade due to habitat loss and pesticide use.

About 65 percent of the nation's commercial beekeepers bring hives to Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Dakotas each summer to gather nectar and pollen and build strength for winter.

Tim Tucker has between 400 and 500 hives at sites in Kansas and Texas. He says he may take some of his bees to South Dakota this year because the fields around his Kansas farm no longer provide much food for them.