Loss of Vermont hay fields limits food for bees

4/13/2014 6:00 AM
By Associated Press

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — A slow change in agricultural practices is having an unintended consequence: limiting food for bees.

Since the 1980s, Vermont has lost more than 100,000 acres of hay fields that used to be full of bee friendly blooming alfalfa and clover. That means bees today aren't finding as many flowering plants as they need to flourish.

And although hay is still grown, it is often cut before it can bloom, making it more nutritious for cows but bad for bees.

Agricultural economist Bob Parsons with the University of Vermont extension says better nutrition practices for cows have driven farmers to manage hay more intensely.

About $1.5 million of Vermont honey is sold annually, a fraction of the $1.2 billion dairy brings in.

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