Protecting the bees – A Brief Guide

There is a whopping 90 percent of the plants that rely on pollinators for the purpose of reproduction and fertilization. And of all the pollinators that exist in the world, Bees are in fact, the most important of all these pollinators. But these most important pollinators are in trouble, and these troublemakers are none other than we humans. As a result of widespread urbanization and deforestation, their natural habitats have been destroyed. Not only has the cutting of trees and plants destroyed habitats, but the modern plantation patterns have also changed and have impacted their habitats in a big way as well. The cultivation of mono-crops such as maize, soy, etc. have made our soils full of poisonous chemicals.

Since the pollinators play a very important role in the cultivation and spread of plant vegetation, it is important to protect these pollinators. There are several ways of protecting the Pollinators, which we will discuss in the next section.

Some Suggestions You Could Use

Pollinators are absolutely necessary for the cultivation and growth of winter squash crops – the honeybees are the most required and necessary among them. Since there had been a decrease in the quality of pollination, the overall yields and productions have decreased substantially. Of late, there has been a drastic decline in the population of honeybees. But thankfully, there are steps and measures to protect these pollinators. Listed below are a few suggestions and ways of protecting pollinators. These include:

1. Plant a mix of other herbs and flowers to attract pollinators

It is advised to plant a variety of herbs and flowers in and around the garden so that these flowers and herbs attract a lot of other types of pollinators. This is to ensure that the bees and other pollinating agents are attracted to these plants so that they are available in ample amounts.

2. Use pesticides judiciously

Make sure that the pesticides are used very sparingly and only when it is absolutely required. Using pesticides when bees and other pollinating agents are not so active ensures that they do not get harmed. And they keep coming to your gardens more often.

3. Maintain and keep the garden well-kept

Make sure that your garden is kept well and groomed well so that the flowers keep blooming throughout the garden, attracting more pollinators to your garden. It is a well-known fact that the bees get attracted to the flowers. So keep the flowers blooming and fill your garden with pollinators.

4. Plant various perennial plants

Ensure that you plant a combination of perennial plants such as shrubs, bushes, alliums, trees, alliums, herbs, flowers, etc. These types of plants flower throughout the year in all seasons, and that keeps the bees thronging your garden at all times in every season. So for all those buzzing bees in your garden, consider planting these plants in your gardens.

5. Do not use herbicides

Using herbicides will kill the herbs that are growing in your garden. Try to achieve a meadow look for your lawns by planting a wide range of flowering plants such as alfalfa along with the perennial clover plants.

 Provide bee houses in your yard
Provide bee houses in your yard

6. Provide bee houses in your yard

You can take this additional step to construct bee houses at various portions of your lawn. This could be on a tree just above the stretch where there are flowers in your lawn. Or you can decide to place them across the lawn. This would ensure that they stick around on your lawn. Providing them with a proper shelter also ensures the bees and other pollinators are protected from predators such as birds, reptiles, etc.

7. Arrange for safe feeders for the bees

During the drought season, if the bees and other pollinators do not get ample food, they will have to go to other places in search of food. So, make sure that you provide your bees with food that they are otherwise looking for outside. Provide them with sugar, water, and nectar as food, that they can have their food when they want. Arrange for a safe feeder and provide them with the food. This would ensure that the bees do not go anywhere and are right there in your lawns.

The Conclusion

Pollinators are undoubtedly the most important agents in the cultivation of many crops and plantations, and as such, there is a need to preserve these pollinators.

Using this brief guide, you sure can save and attract pollinators to your lawns and gardens and help in the preservation and protection of the environment. Try these suggestions today and watch your landscapes getting better and beautiful.

Flowering Bok Choy

Today, I was pondering on harvesting some Bok Choy and adding it to my favorite cabbage and green bean recipe. However, when I looked out my window I got a surprise. My Bok Choy which I had inter-planted with my carrots had bolted and gone to flour during the week. I, actually, have never seen Bok Choy flour before. I guess I have always harvested and eaten it before the weather warmed up enough for it to bolt.  This really demonstrates just how much bok choy is a nice cool weather crop. It has only been intermittently warm, and by warm I mean high 70s low 80s, and consistently for a couple weeks.

By the way, if you happened to notice the native on one of the flowers in the picture, have no fear, the poor bee was just on motionless by the cool low 50s weather this morning.  When the weather warmed up the poor thing just flew away.

Are honeybees live stock?

Honeybee Hives
Honeybee Hives

If you are thinking about keeping some honey bees and live in the city and/or are in Homeowners Association (HOA), you will need to check the local ordinances and rules. If for no other reason than to prevent potential problems later.

Are honeybees livestock?

In a nutshell, probably, Yes!  Honeybees are classified separately but treated like livestock by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Related References

Perennial – ‘Common’ Garlic (Allium sativum)

Garlic was used at the beginning of recorded history and was in use in Egypt pyramids and ancient Greece.  The root is composed of from ten to fifteen small bulbs, called “cloves,” which are enclosed in a thin, white, semi-transparent skin, or pellicle. The leaves are long and narrow. The flower-stem is cylindrical, about eighteen inches in height, and terminates in an umbel, or group, of pale-pink flowers, intermixed with small bulbs. The seeds are black, and, inform, irregular; but are seldom employed for propagation; the cloves, or small bulbs, succeeding better.

Hardiness

  • Perennial

Origins

  • Southern Europe.

Uses

  • Common garlic is cultivated for its bulbs, or cloves, which possess more of the flavor of the onion than any other alliaceous plant. These are sometimes employed in soups, stews, and other dishes; and, in some parts of Europe, are eaten in a raw state with bread.  Garlic’s strong flavor, and the offensive odor it communicates to the breath, causing it to be sparingly used in our cookery.
  • Garlic can be planted as a border or inter-planted.   The flowers will attract bees of many varieties to your garden to help with pollination.

Attracts

  • Bees

Requirements

  • Garlic thrives best in a light, well-enriched soil and is helped by lite side dressing throughout the growing season.    Keeping the ground free from weeds and regularly watered.

When to Plant

  • Common garlic is commonly planted in the fall; especially, in southern climates.  However, it may be planted in the spring as soon as the ground can be worked.
  • Plant an inch deep, in rows or on ridges, fourteen inches apart, and five or six inches apart in the rows.
  • I do, periodically, plant in small clusters of three to five in the corners of my raised beds or in areas where I expect my vines to cover serving as a pollinator attractor.

Cautions

  • Not recommended for inter-planting or companion planting with beans if any kind.

Harvesting

When the leaves turn yellow, the plants may be taken up and sun-dried.  After having been dried in the sun, they should be tied up in bunches by the stalks, and suspended in a dry, airy room, for use.

Storage

The easiest way to store common garlic at home is in mesh bags or loosely woven baskets. Garlic with flexible tops can be made into pretty braids to hang; see our online slideshow for an easy how-to. Common garlic keeps longest when stored at 60 to 65 degrees and in moderate humidity.

Perennial – ‘Lemon’ Balm (Melissa officinalis)

Balm (Melissa officinalis)
Balm (Melissa officinalis)

Balm (Melissa officinalis)

Balm (Melissa officinalis), often called lemon balm, because of the fragrance of its light green leaves. Small white or pale yellow flowers, produced in spikes or clusters, at or near the top of the plant, appear in late summer and early fall and are highly attractive, Thus, the generic name Melissa, from the Greek for “honey- bees. The stalk is four-sided, branching, and from two to three feet high; leaves opposite, in pairs, ovate, toothed on the borders.

Origins

  • South of Europe.

 Uses

  • Leaves lend gentle flavor to puddings, soups, stuffing, punch, and other summer drinks. Pleasant garnish for fish and shellfish. Brew leaves to make excellent mild tea, which acts as a gentle sedative.
  • The plant has a pleasant, lemon-like odor; an agreeable, aromatic taste; and, in flavoring certain dishes, is used as a substitute for lemon-thyme.
  • It is beneficial in hemorrhage, and other diseases of the lungs; and, in the form of tea, constitutes a cooling and grateful diluent in fevers.
  • A mixture of balm and honey, or sugar, is sometimes applied to the interior of beehives, just previous to receiving the swarm, for the purpose of “attaching the colony to its new settlement.

Substitutions

  • Balm, like Angelica, can replace some of the sugar in fruit pies.
  • Balm used as a substitute for lemon-thyme

Hardiness

  • Hardy perennial

Height

  • 2-4 ft.

Spread

  • 12-18 in.

Requirements

  •  Any warm, mellow, garden soil is suited to its growth, having good drainage;  full sun or partial shade.

Planting

  •  It is generally propagated by dividing the roots, which may be done either in spring or in autumn. After thoroughly stirring the soil, set the roots in rows fifteen inches apart, and a foot apart in the rows. Under good management, the plants will soon completely cover the surface of the ground, and the bed will not need renewal for many years.
  • Sow tiny seeds in a pan in late spring. Thin established seedlings to 2 in. apart. When they are about 4 in. tall, plant in the garden, 1 ft. apart. Set out nursery-grown plants in mid-spring

Harvesting

  • Cut shoots individually as soon as flowers appear, continuing until mid-fall.
  • If cut for drying, the plants should be cut as they come into flower, separating the stems from the surface of the ground. They should not be exposed to the sun in drying, but placed in an airy, shady place, and allowed to dry gradually.
  • The leaves, in their green state, may be taken directly from the plants as they are required for use.

Preserving

  • Dry or freeze leaves

Do All Bees Make Honey?

The other day while standing in line at the grocery store I was asked a question by a follower: “Do all these make honey?”.  For whatever reason, I had never actually considered the question before, so, I thought I would do a little research, and here’s what I found.

Basically, the answer is: no; all bees do not make honey.

Actually, Honeybees are the only bees, which make true honey.    Even among the varieties of Honeybees (Italian, German, Carniolan, Buckfast, Caucasian, and Russian), they do not make honey of equal quantity or quality.   Also, honeybees are not native to North America; they were brought to North America by Europeans.

Bumblebees (larger than Carpenter bees, but similar in appearance) are social and make nests similar to honeybees, but these nests are much smaller, Bumblebees while they store nectar, do not make true honey.

Most bee species belonging to other families are solitary and don’t nest in colonies. Mason bees make nests in cracks and crevices, leaf-cutter bees nest in hollow stems or holes in wood,  Carpenter bees drill holes in dead wood, where digger and mining bees make their nests in holes underground.  These bees do not make true honey or beeswax.

Related References

Bee Basics: An Introduction to Our Native Bees