According to the USDA “One mouthful in three in the diet directly or indirectly benefits from honey bee pollination” but colony collapse disorder claims an alarming 1/3 of the honey bee population to date. It is a dangerous situation that could have impacts on food production, the natural environment, and ultimately people if bee populations continue to decline at this rate. Interestingly, we urbanites may be able to help rural honey bee populations and our gardens at the same time. Rural bees are on a decline but city bees are thriving and produce almost 3 times as much honey (Food and the City, J. Cockrall-King). Consider some of the suggestions below to help support the urban honey bee population:
- Don’t indiscriminately kill bees and wasps, many are good to have around for pollination and biological control. And as is the case with honey bees – they do NOT sting without serious cause, they only have one sting in them and then they die so most will choose flight over fight unless they feel their hive is threatened. To know what to look for visit http://www.freshfromflorida.com/Divisions-Offices/Plant-Industry/Education-Outreach/What-is-not-a-Honey-Bee.
- Minimize or eliminate excessive insecticide use on your lawn and garden, consider biological and organic controls instead. To learn more about biological controls read my earlier post on the 2/22.
- Try planting herbs, flowers, and plants that provide lots of pollen and nectar for honey bees including Borage, Clover, Coriander, Golden Rod, Lemon Balm, Elderberry-a Fl native, Lavender, Mint, Sunflowers, and Thyme. Visit http://www.themelissagarden.com/TMG_Vetaley031608.htm for more ideas.
- Look into creating your own colony – there are over 2,700 people registered as beekeepers in Florida right now. Not only will you be helping the faltering bee population but your home garden will thrive and you will get fresh local honey as a bonus! Visit http://floridabeekeepers.org/ for more information.