POTUS has spoken: It's time to help the honeybee.
Scientists and environmentalists have been sounding the alarm about our most prolific pollinators for years. And now the White House says it's time to do something about it.
In spite of massive amounts of research, colony collapse disorder, the strange condition that has cut the population of honey bees in half in recent years, remains a mystery to scientists.
To get to the bottom of it, President Obama created the Pollinator Health Task Force in June 2014 after reading a disheartening memo about bees.
On Tuesday, the task force released a report focused on how we can help the honey bee and another important pollinator, the Monarch butterfly. The report identified three key goals: reduce the death of honey bees during winter to 15 percent, increase the number of Monarch butterflies to 225 million, and restore 7 million miles of land with pollinators in mind.
This means planting more bee-friendly plants along highways and on federal property, working with Mexico to protect migrating monarch butterflies, and conducting lots and lots of additional research into colony collapse disorder.
The president has already asked the Environmental Protection Agency to take a deeper look at neonicotinoids, the insecticides widely believed to be responsible for bees dying off. Neonicotinoids have such a bad reputation that the European Union has already banned them.
The White House task force is on the same page, noting that "the misuse and overuse of these pesticides ... leads to adverse ecological and human health consequences."
The cost of achieving all of these goals? A mere $82 million. When you consider that honey bees produce $15 billion in crop values every year, that almost seems like a bargain.
In the meantime, the report urges everyday Americans to do what they can to help the bees. This "all hands on deck" approach means increasing public awareness of bees and other pollinators. So next time you see a bee, don't tell it to buzz off—they're fighting for their lives out there.
Photo credit: Matthew T Rader via Flickr