The Gopher State is bringing odd summer jobs to a new level. To keep beehives buzzing, the Minnesota legislature will pay homeowners $350 a month to plant a special grass mix in their backyards.
The blend of grass feed and flowers is supposed to create “bee lawns,” a last-ditch effort to rescue honeybees from existential decline. As bee habitats disappear, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and dozens of other states are waxing poetic about the benefits of recruiting regular people to raise their insect neighbors.
Beez are stuck in a demographic honeytrap
Honeybees and other pollinators play a role in as much as ⅓ of the food we consume, but the bees are getting slammed. Last winter, an estimated 38% of honeybees disappeared across the US — the worst loss in the history of a survey conducted since 2006.
The culprit: colony collapse disorder, in which honeybees mysteriously disappear from their hives.
Scientists are still sorting through the causes, but one thing is clear. If they’re going to survive, bees need more stable places to call home.
The honeycomb jackpot
The Minnesota program is launching with a $900k budget — all sourced from state lottery profits. While some in the state insist that the program could put at risk the 3% of adults with bee allergies, many Minnesotans have no problem turning their lawns into a bee haven in exchange for some extra cash.
The program only has enough funds to pay 300-400 people — but when it debuted last year, 4k Minnesotans applied.