When we began beekeeping we didn’t realize where our journey would take us. Taking classes was the number one priority and we needed to find out what exactly we were getting ourselves into. Granted, I had a friend that had a number of hives many years ago and I would help him periodically but my knowledge was limited. Taking classes through our local bee club was very helpful as were the people that became our mentors. The first year I’m pretty sure I had my mentor on speed dial! Meeting other beekeepers and sharing stories has been one way of finding out that you are not alone and talking about what works and doesn’t work with your hive(s).
I’d like to share a few things that I feel are important and hope you do as well. Let’s talk a little bit about how very important the honey bee really is to our world and what happens to our food crops that are dependent on bees for pollination. This also encompasses livestock that are also dependent on certain plants such as clover. We as humans are finding out that we cannot duplicate the effectiveness of bees as pollinators. According to the American Beekeeping Federation bees pollinate about one-sixth of the world’s flowering plant species and some 400 of its agricultural plants. One third of all the food Americans eat is directly or indirectly derived from honey bee pollination.
When I’m asked what do I think is contributing to the loss of the honey bee population my answer is based not on one issue but many. The use of pesticides, our weather which from one day to the next can put a hive in jeopardy, for instance it can be warm and the bees are out foraging all of a sudden there is a drop in temperature and if they are far enough away they may not be able to get back in time, they become chilled and die. And the loss of usable land, more and more land that helped sustain the honey bee and other pollinators is being used for other purposes.
But we can do things that will make a difference. Spring is almost upon us and we can now get ready to plant those gardens. If we can work together to help all pollinators then we all win.
Tips to plant a bee garden
- Crocus, hyacinth, borage, calendula, and wild lilac provide enticing spring blooms.
- Bees feast on bee balm, cosmos, echinacea, snapdragons foxglove, and hosta in the summer.
- For fall, zinnias, sedum, asters, witch hazel and goldenrod are late bloomers that will tempt foragers.