I just finished reading Honeybee: Lessons from an Accidental Beekeper, by C. Marina Marchese. It is a beautifully written and illustrated book about the author’s journey from a corporate career in NYC to building a company (Red Bee) and lifestyle around beekeeping. It’s a fun story and a very informative book about the incredibly important role that honeybees play in nature and agriculture.
Honeybees are responsible for pollinating more than 100 agricultural crops in the United States, including many of the fruits and vegetables we all enjoy. The USDA estimates that “about one mouthful in three in our diet directly or indirectly benefits from honey bee pollination.”
In contrast to wind pollination, honeybees go out on foraging trips where they visit flowers, and physically transfer pollen from male to female flowers. It is through this process that germination, fertilization and fruit development occurs.
In the past three years, honeybees have been dying off, unexpectedly, at alarming rates. The cause of the crisis (termed Colony Collapse Disorder) has no explanation, but hypotheses include virus, pests or chemical exposure.
Haagen Dazs (yes the ice cream company) has done a great job building awarness for this problem (they recognize that many of the delicious ingredients in their ice cream depend on honeybees for pollination). Their website is both interesting and informative.
Fortunately, of the best things you can do to support native honeybee populations, is to plant a garden! The key elements include plants that are attractive to honeybees, a water source (this can be a bird bath or a simple saucer to catch rain water), and natural pest control (no chemicals please). Haagen Dazs even offers a guide to planting a honeybee friendly garden.
Here are a few of my favorite, honeybee friendly, plants that you can use in your garden.
|Rudbeckia (Black Eyed Susan)|
|Eupatorium maculatum (Joe Pye Weed)|