Dane County Works to Strengthen Bee Populations

September 12, 2017
Stephanie Miller: 608-267-8823
County Executive

The overall health and survival of bee colonies in pollinating plants is a lingering concern in the United States. Only three winters ago, Wisconsin suffered from an annual honey bee colony loss of more than 60 percent. To curb this problem on a local level, the Dane County Environmental Council is leading an effort to increase bee education program materials, expand outreach, and maximize bee-friendly land use and development.


With the help of Dane County UW Extension, this team is designing and planting demonstration pollinator gardens with permanent educational signage around the county to highlight the importance of bees. In addition, public events and workshops are being held to help get the word out about what residents can do to strengthen local pollinator populations. The council is also working with groups like the Dane County Parks Department to further their efforts in safeguarding bees.


Healthy bee colonies are crucial for a key segment of Wisconsin’s economy. Pollinator-dependent crops account for over $55 million in annual production in the state. These crops include apple, cranberry, cherry, green beans, pickling cucumber and fresh market fruits and vegetables. Honey and beeswax are also popular commodities in Wisconsin, accounting for $3.5 million in annual production. Unfortunately, such factors as pests, pathogens, pesticides, climate change and a lack of nesting habitat and forage plants can harm bees, putting the production of these foods in jeopardy.


Previously, Dane County UW-Extension and University of Wisconsin staff worked with the Dane County Environmental Council to secure funding that would enable them to address this national concern on a local level. Various educational pieces including table top display boards, brochures, a seed card insert, and youth and adult activities were developed. These materials were then extensively reviewed by peers and University specialists. 10,000 of each piece have been printed for use at public events.


The team’s published materials in both English and Spanish can be reserved and borrowed free of charge for local events. They can be found at: