Bee picture

Rusty patched bumble bee

UW Extension, photo by Susan Carpenter

Bees aren't necessarily welcome at picnics and outdoor events, but they are essential for pollinating crops worth millions of dollars to the Wisconsin economy.

To that end, UW-Madison and UW-Extension staff in Dane County are working with the Dane County Environmental Council to increase bee education and get the most out of bee-friendly land use and development.

Bees took a big hit three winters ago when the honey bee colony in Wisconsin shrunk by more than 60 percent.

Since then, university and extension staff worked with the council to get funding for educational materials, such as table top displays, brochures, seed cards and both youth and adult activities.

The bee team is designing and planting demonstration pollinator gardens around the county, with educational signage at the gardens to show the public how important the bee is.

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Bill Novak is a general assignment reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.