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Bees and Pheasants Go Together

Governor Kristi Noem has shown a keen if uninformed and misfocused interest in boosting our dwindling pheasant population; if she read more, maybe she’d consider dedicating similar attention to the embattled bee population:

The pheasant and the bee: natural friends!
The pheasant and the bee: natural friends!

Wild bees and a host of other native pollinators, such as monarch butterflies, also are responsible for pollinating everything from wildflowers and some grasses to flowering trees in far greater numbers than domestic bees. All of that pollination work helps provide food for everything from pheasants to cattle and even people [Nick Lowrey, “As Bees Die Off, Beekeepers Face Industry’s ‘Darkest Days’,” South Dakota News Watch, 2019.07.24].

Bees and pheasants appear to have a common enemy about which Governor Noem’s pheasant habitat project has done nothing—the plowing and planting of conservation land:

The increased number of corn and soybean acres also limits locations bees can find food in South Dakota. Since 2008, 42 percent of the land South Dakota farmers had enrolled in the federal Conservation Reserve Program have been taken out of the program and often converted to row crop production. The CRP pays farmers to plant grass and other wildlife habitat and leave it relatively undisturbed for 10 years. Wildlife such as pheasants and deer benefit, but so do bees which find plenty of honeymaking materials and a wide variety of nutritious pollen in CRP grasslands.

[Dante, SD, beekeeper Tim] Hollmann, who keeps some of his bees in Iowa, said the reduction of CRP lands, as well as the loss of weeds along fence rows and in ditches near farm fields in that state, has been devastating. Some of his Iowa locations have had bees producing honey on them for nearly 100 years, but those sites may not produce at all this year due to habitat loss and poor weather, Hollmann said [Lowrey, 2019.07.24].

Hmm… maybe instead of removing critters from the ecosystem, Governor Noem should invest our tax dollars in adding flora and fauna to support a more diverse and robust ecosystem.

Game Fish and Parks says pheasant hunters spent $218.1 million in 2018. South Dakota beekeepers made $23.7 million selling honey last year, down from $30 million in 2017.


  1. Robert McTaggart 2019-07-28 14:52

    Nothing like that honey money…

    And don’t forget all the native insects too…i.e. those “wanna-bees”.

  2. jerry 2019-07-28 15:53

    Very good article and link Cory. Government could do something about it, but it’s too damn hard for the likes of the Pierre cabal to even think about. I think if we told those fake conservatives that by saving the bees, it would harm do harm LBGT folks. We then would be coddling bees like a new mother to her suckling babe.

    Now Mike Rounds and his chemical industry will be putting even more chemicals to kill the bees.

  3. mike from iowa 2019-07-28 17:35

    A number of years ago iowa DOT refurbished ditches along US Hiways 10 and 59 in Obrien county and sowed wild flowers in the ditches to beautify the scenery asnd 0provide wildlife habitat.

  4. Debbo 2019-07-28 19:06

    I can testify that Obrien County ditches are awash in beautiful wildflowers. Same for highway 65 south of Mason City. I saw more wildflowers in highway ditches just in that part of Iowa than I’ve seen in Minnesota and SD together in the past several years.

    BTW, I believe milkweed is a monarch butterfly’s favorite dish. Minnesota has had a push to get people to let milkweed grow and there have been give aways of milkweed seeds too.

  5. Certain Inflatable Recreational Devices 2019-07-28 20:02

    Milkweed is an absolute requirement for the development of Monarch caterpillars.

  6. mike from iowa 2019-07-28 20:19

    Milkweed is to Monarchs asthe eucalyptus is to koalas and as the bamboo to pandas. Before I forget as lies are to Drumpf.

  7. Robert McTaggart 2019-07-28 20:45

    There is a lot of the orange butterfly weed planted around here, but that isn’t the only milkweed. It is all good, but the common milkweed probably needs to be planted more often.

  8. Clyde 2019-07-28 22:40

    Well, I agree that we farmers haven’t done the bees, butterflies or pheasants any good. I am going to put the blame on government policy however. When you get rid of 95% of the farmers and the big ones left farm road to road with no more fence lines, shelter belts and home sight’s for milk weeds or anything other than a monoculture to grow in its not helpful for wild life.

    The cutting down of the trees that Monarch’s overwinter in Mexico hasn’t helped though. I can find plenty of common milk weed but hardly ever signs of Monarch caterpillar feeding. Something that used to be common and something that seemed to happen overnight. I blame a big part of the loss of the Monarch on a big freeze in Mexico without enough protection due to the loss of the trees.

  9. Clyde 2019-07-28 23:04

    The subject of wild flowers in the road ditches is a sore one for me. I just crossed Iowa and Wisconsin where many road ditches have been seeded to wild flowers but the flowers that seem to be doing the best are Canada Thistle. Canada thistle is a noxious weed that farmers used to be after with a vengeance. Now that we have gone to totally chemical farming they are no longer a threat in crop field’s but they are a threat anywhere you don’t want chemical’s to be used. The fact is that it is against the law to harbor a noxious weed. At one time local government was required to control any noxious weeds that land owners did not control and assess the cost against the property. Now local government is the number one law breaker and the urban resident hasn’t a clue to what these weeds are.

    The pretty purple patches of thistle flowers are gone now and the grayish white seed heads that look like a tightly packed flock of sheep are shedding their seed’s. On a windy day they look like a snow squall blowing across the road. They get sucked into your radiator and you carry them to your city parks, state parks, national parks, and your very own lawns. They spread through rhizomes so that even though you are constantly mowing them off the patch will grow. Your grand kids are not going to be running bare foot through the yard or are you going to be laying in those thistle’s. Try to grow organic vegetables with the scourge of Canada Thistle that we now have! So, folks, how about getting on those government agency’s that are breaking the law and making them control noxious Canada Thistle!!

  10. Clyde 2019-07-29 07:22

    Interesting stuff Mike. Makes sense since Canada thistle is actually from Eurasia [Canadian’s call them American thistle] and the honey bee is not a new world bee but one brought in by our first settlers from the old world.

  11. JW 2019-07-29 08:52

    It’s that horse crap concept of single species management that the idiot fringe can’t fathom.

  12. leslie 2019-07-30 22:17

    “In February 2019, I lost my job because I was a climate scientist in a climate-denying administration,”… in an opinion article for the Guardian. “And yet my story is no longer unique.”

    “….the climate crisis and environmental and ecological degradation “are likely to fuel competition for resources, economic distress and social discontent through 2019 and beyond”. ….the impact of environmental changes are likely to include issues with global food and water security, increased migration and political and economic instability.
    The Trump administration is routinely ignoring or blocking expertise from being aired, according to whistleblowers and groups that track agency decisions.”

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