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May 20 – It’s World Bee Day!
It’s bee day and we love bees. Of course, our best relationship is with the honey bee. These hard-working ladies produce yummy honey, which lets us make yummy wine, and provide a vital service in pollination of the foods that we eat. The current estimate is that the 80% of cultivated crops in North America are pollinated by honey bees, and 30% of all pollination globally is done by various species of bees.
Beekeepers are doing everything they can to maintain and grow honey bee populations, caring for honey bee colonies and harvesting honey for human consumption.
However, there are 4000 species of bees in North America, which means a whole lot of helpful pollinators are not being loved and shepherded as assiduously as the honey bee. It’s difficult to ascertain exactly what the decline in wild pollinator populations is, but there is no doubt that pollution and loss of habitat, among other factors, have had an effect. And since these conditions are the result of human activity, it’s only right that if we want to continue to eat, we should do what we can to encourage pollinators.
So what can you do to help maintain and grow the health of wild pollinator populations?
Just a few simple things are:
- Plant flowers, and rotate them to keep your garden blooming throughout the season.
- Include indigenous plant species in your garden. Native plants will be the best food for native pollinator populations.
- Minimize use of pesticides, check the ones you do use for bee safety and apply them at night while pollinators are at rest
- Do a little research on building nesting sites for bumblebees or other native pollinator species – and allocate a small corner of your yard or garden for them.
- If you can stand it – leave the clover and dandelions alone. Flowering “weeds” are a terrific source of nectar and pollen.
- If you decide to get into beekeeping yourself, join a local beekeepers club. They can answer questions and help you obtain supplies and nucs
- If you decide to get out of beekeeping – you tried it, and it’s not for you – please clean up and properly dispose of your hives. Old hives can be a breeding ground for bacteria and pathogens dangerous to pollinator populations, while still remaining an appealing place for a colony to take up residence.