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Bee Friendly Communities


Bee Friendly Communities

Written by Janet Fetterman

Save yourself….save the bees! Pretty startling comment, isn’t
it? The stark reality is that Bees are responsible for pollinating your food
and without the bee, your diet and even your life and the lives of future
generations are at stake. Nearly 80% of all flowering plants need assistance of
pollinators to produce seeds, fruits and vegetables. That amounts to one out of
every 3 bites of food that you eat depends on the amazing work that these
incredible insects perform.

Collapse Disorder (CCD) is responsible for claiming millions of bees each year.
This is a phenomenon that has been on the rise for the last twenty years. Bees
are dying at alarming rates. Research is showing that the perfect storm of:
lost habitat; pesticides; farming practices and the rise of parasitic insects that
feed off the bees, all contribute to their
decline and these factors combined
create Colony Collapse Disorder.

researchers scramble to find solutions, we all must take immediate action to
stem the tide of the bees’ demise. You
don’t have to become a dedicated Beekeeper to help them. You need to educate
yourself on how to change your practices to help them thrive. You need to teach
your children and your neighbors of these Bee Friendly Practices. Here are some guidelines to incorporate into
your lifestyle and to share with others. The bees can’t make it another twenty
years while we study the problem and slowly legislate worldwide changes. The
change must start with each of us and the change must start today!

That’s right…if you see a swarm of bees, call the county extension office for contact
information of local beekeepers. There are many Bee Clubs listed in the area
and contact information is available through Google.

Swarming bees don’t sting (as a
rule-except for Africanized Bees- but that is another topic) because there is
no honey to protect. In Alachua County Florida, we are lucky that the
Africanized Bee does not appear to have made it to our area.

A Beekeeper will properly re-hive
the colony and move it to bee-safety. It is my experience that when the call
goes out for a swarming colony, within the hour a local Beekeeper will arrive to
save them.

While most pest control companies
thoroughly understand the plight of the bee and their importance, all too often
a homeowner freaking out over a home infestation leads to their extermination.
If you can’t control your fear and panic, go to the UF Butterfly Garden and let
them safely remove the colony. Visiting this local resource will give you a
better appreciation for all the insect pollinators of the planet while enjoying
a beautiful, serene little patch of garden paradise.

2. Chemicalsthat you use on your vegetables and or flowers should be applied from sunset to
sunrise when the bees are most likely in their hives. Avoid drift and runoff-
so spray when it isn’t windy and make sure you aren’t spilling chemicals on
your driveway, storm drains or any way that they can get into streams. If the
pesticide label contains a caution to avoid visiting bees, do not apply it to
blooming flowers. The best advice of all though, is to utilize organic
gardening methods.

3. Avoid pest problemsproactively by burying infested plant residues,
removing pest habitats and planting disease and pest resistant plant varieties.

4. Create
a drinking station
- shallow bird baths filled with pebbles means they
can drink without danger of drowning.

5. Plant Bee Friendly nativeplants.

blooms from March-November, reseeds itself.

Beebalm- perennial, blooms late summer to early fall, many color varieties.

is a partial list of bee friendly plants.

  • Aster Aster
  • Black-eyed Susan Rudbeckia
  • Caltrop Kallstroemia
  • Creosote bush Larrea
  • Currant Ribes
  • Elder Sambucus
  • Goldenrod Solidago
  • Huckleberry Vaccinium
  • Joe-pye weed Eupatorium
  • Lupine Lupinus
  • Oregon grape Berberis

  • Penstemon Penstemon
  • Purple coneflower Echinacea Rabbit-brush Chrysothamnus
  • Rhododendron Rhododendron
  • Sage Salvia
  • Scorpion-weed Phacelia
  • Snowberry Symphoricarpos
  • Stonecrop Sedum
  • Sunflower Helianthus
  • Wild buckwheat Eriogonum
  • Wild-lilac Ceanothus
  • Willow Salix

6. Supportresearch on the long term effects of Genetically
Modified Organisms (GMO) A GMO is
genetically modified organism: an organism or
microorganism whose genetic material has been altered by means of genetic
engineering. There are a variety of reasons GMO’s have come into being and the
main reason appears to be to produce more product at a cheaper cost. There are
increasing reports of the negative long term effects of consuming these fruits
and vegetables not only on the Bee Queendom but humans as well. The jury is
returning from 2 decades of increasing utilization of GMO crops and the reports
are revealing alarming results. Yet lobbyists of chemical companies continue to
petition our law makers and increase production of GMO altered produce, without
knowing the consequences of our long term consumption. All the while, the
population unconsciously buys this unlabeled food thinking it is safe and
suffering the results of health conditions that lead back to their consumption.

Insist that all GMO food be labeled accordingly. Support local organic growers. Feed your
family a diet that your Grandparents ate, not the diet of the last 20 years. By
supporting locally grown organic food, we will live healthier and be supporting
local bee friendly crops.

7. Reclaim lost habitatfor the bee…request that your homeowner association plant perennial blooming
wildflowers in natural areas. Fields of wildflowers in retention basins require
less maintenance and labor to maintain and can provide breathtaking changing,
seasonal panoramas that are beautiful
focal points of your community. You can reduce your maintenance budgets while
increasing the beauty and appeal of your neighborhood while providing bees with
the natural forage they require.

The bee is an amazing gift of
nature and an integral part of our existence. Consider this your call to action.
Start today and join this mission to save the bee….and save the planet.

Janet Fetterman is a
novice beekeeper hobbyist in Gainesville FL just beginning her second season of
beekeeping. It has proven to be a challenging and exciting experience to date.


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