Agriculture notes: Ice cream maker wants to help imperiled bees

The people at Häagen-Dazs hope you will rip out one of their magazine ads and toss it in the dirt. The ice cream maker's ad, which will be in Monday's issue of Newsweek, is embedded with flower seeds that can sprout as the linen-based paper decomposes. The flowers could feed honeybees and, perhaps, help fend off the recent drop in bee numbers. Why does it matter? Because bees pollinate some of the fruits and nuts that go into Häagen-Dazs products, including about 1 million pounds of almonds from the Central Valley each year. The Newsweek ad is part of a company effort that includes raising money for research into the problem, known as colony collapse disorder.

Landowners looking to enhance wildlife habitat have until June 20 to apply for the latest round of grants from a federal program that covers 75 percent of the cost. The money can go to projects such as native plant restoration, improvement to stream zones and protection of species at risk. Because of the just-enacted farm bill, this will be the last chance for projects that cost more than $50,000 or that are on nonagricultural land. Information is at Natural Resources Conservation Service offices: 491-9320 for Stanislaus and Tuolumne counties, 472-7127 for San Joaquin and Calaveras counties, and 722-4119 for Merced and Mariposa counties.

Growers of tree and vine crops in Stanislaus County can get updates on pest management from a 24-hour hot line provided by the University of California Cooperative Extension. By calling 525-6841, they can get information on weather, pest flight activity, treatment timing and alternative control methods. The service will run through this year's harvests.