Researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture are testing about a dozen flowering plants which dot the landscape in western Minnesota as critical food for bees and an additional source of income for farmers.
Dean Peterson, a research technician with the federal agency, says the plants provide food for bees, as well as a harvest of seeds that provide various kinds of oil. Minnesota Public Radio News reports that calendula oil can be used in paints, borage oil can be used in vitamins and echium oil can be used in anti-wrinkle creams.
Frank Forcella, a research agronomist with the agency, says echium could bring more money per acre than corn.
Researchers are analyzing the crops' oil production and calculating how much energy they provide to bees.