Washington Whispers: Feds Are Split on Funding for the Honey Bee Crisis

Money's not the answer to the honey bee crisis, Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer tells Whispers.

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Ed Schafer knows honey bees and the disaster called Colony Collapse Disorder wiping them out. And not just because he's the secretary of agriculture. See, he was a two-term North Dakota governor, and that state is the nation's top honey producer. "They certainly have an advocate in the bee situation," he tells me of the nation's worried beekeepers.

But he's not pushing for more money to study the problem, which is that bees leave hives and never return. Schafer says that the feds are already doing what they can, and he shrugged off calls in Congress for at least $20 million in new study money. "We already have it in the labs. We have this great bee guy who's tinkering away in the lab to see what's going on," he said. The ag secretary said that while there is still no answer for what causes CCD, it may be disappearing on its own. "There are two areas of thought. One is that it's still going downhill, and the other is that we've reached the bottom and it's starting to come back up. And I've seen both studies, and we're trying to figure out why the difference. It's a big issue." As for more money, he said that his department doesn't need it. "You can always try to overwhelm things with money and hopefully get a better answer. Very, very seldom do you get a better answer; you're just wasting money."