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EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan State University is receiving $6.9 million from the U.S. Agriculture Department to develop bee pollination strategies for specialty crops.

National Institute of Food and Agriculture director Sonny Ramaswamy says the grant is important to the $50 billion domestic specialty crop industry because the numbers of pollinating bees are declining.

The project's goal is to find ways for using native bees for crop pollination.

Two studies published last year in the journal Science say the numbers of American bumblebees and other wild bees is dwindling in the Midwest, possibly from disease and parasites. The bees pollinate flowers and food crops.

Ramaswamy says the research will provide growers with information and management practices to "keep their crops productive year after year."

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