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Minnesota Pays Homeowners to Replace Lawns with Bee-Friendly Wildflowers, Clover and Native Grasses

Minnesota is asking homeowners to turn their lawns into prairie to help bring back the bees

Minnesota just allocated nearly a million dollars in incentives for people to transform their lawns into bee-friendly wildflowers, clover and native grasses.

The state is asking citizens to stop spraying herbicide, stop mowing so often, and let their lawns re-wild into a more natural state.

The goal is to provide “food sources for pollinators of all kinds, but will specifically aim at saving the rusty patched bumblebee, a fat and fuzzy species on the brink of extinction that seems to be making its final stand in the cities of the Upper Midwest,” the Star Tribune reports.

Research has shown bumblebees are particularly important to the region, as they vibrate at frequency that unlocks pollen other insects can’t reach.

The loss of native prairies and forests across the country has made pollinators more dependent on urban and suburban lawn flowers, says James Wolfin, a bee habitat researcher at University of Minnesota.

His research has focused on “bee lawns” – grassy yards interspersed with small flowers such as Dutch white clover, creeping thyme, self heal, ground plum and dandelions.

The flowers make excellent food source for bees, while being cheap to plant and easy maintain.

“A pound of Dutch white clover is about $7 and it grows low enough that people wouldn’t even have to change the way they mow their lawn,” Wolfin told the Star Tribune.

Around 55 of Minnesota’s  350 bee species depend on white clover alone, he notes.

“So just by not treating white clover like a weed and letting it grow in a yard provides a really powerful resource for nearly 20% of the bee species in the state,” Wolfin said.

The program is set to begin in spring of 2020.

Citizens living in rusty patch bumblebee zones are eligible for grants up to $500, while people living in zones of secondary and tertiary importance to bees are eligible for $350 and $150 respectively.

Considering a 1-pound bag of clover seeds costs as little as $10, and spreads “like a weed,” that should be plenty to cover it.

In fact, letting your lawn go to the bees is so easy, those of us living outside Minnesota might want to consider joining in the effort!

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