By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The state of Minnesota wants to pay you to make your lawn bee friendly.

Buried in the state omnibus Environment bill is a new law that provides $900,000 to homeowners to create bee habitats on their lawns.

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The one-year funding won’t be ready to distribute until next year, but its goal is to help revive the state’s declining bee population.

The wet cool spring has meant a slow start for bees, and the plants that keep them naturally buzzing. While the Minnesota legislature can’t do anything about the weather, it has provided a boost to create bee habitats.

The state’s board of water and soil resources will reimburse homeowners for planting bee-friendly plants, like creeping thyme, self-heal and dutch white clover.

James Wolfin is a graduate student who works at the University of Minnesota’s Bee Lab.

“When people look at these flowers, they see a nuisance, they see a weed. I see a forage for pollinators,” Wolfin said.

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The grants will boost all bee populations, but especially the endangered rusty patch bumblebee which pollinates tomatoes and apples.

“One third of every bite you eat is due to a pollinator pollinating that plant,” Wolfin said.

Bee experts want us all to rethink what is a perfect lawn, starting with — believe it or not — the length of your grass. A longer cut is better, but you can still keep the basic look.

“We want you to still be able to have that family picnic, we want you to be able to have a catch on the lawn and we want you to put a little bit of food there to support the pollinators,” Wolfin said.

And he insists a bee-friendly yard isn’t a threat.

“In the three years I have been doing this research, I have only been stung two times. And one of these times a bumblebee got caught between the tongue of my shoe and my foot, so I really don’t blame her,” Wolfin said.

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And again you won’t be able to apply for one of these grants until sometime next year. But WCCO-TV will stay on top of this story and let you know when that system is ready for applications.

Esme Murphy