When I was first “invited” into the world of beekeeping, I’ll admit, bees had not been high on my list of priorities. I knew they flew around pollinating flowers and made honey, and if I got too close for their comfort, I’d probably regret it. It had never really occurred to me how very important they are to such a huge number of plants, lots of them, plants that we depend on. Whenever I thought about bees, I thought of them with flowers; kind of like salt and pepper, things that just go together. I didn’t give much thought though to the truth behind that mindset; bees and flowering plants not only go together, but are interdependent on each other.
The bees need the pollen and nectar that the flowers provide, and the flowers rely on the bees (and other pollinators) for their ability to reproduce (produce seeds or seed bearing fruit). When you stop to think about all that, it becomes obvious that part of caring for your charges, as a beekeeper, is making sure there are plentiful plant resources for them to forage among. Thankfully, people across the land, not just beekeepers, are starting to realize that if we would like to continue to have good harvests of good fruits and vegetables, as well as honey to sweeten our tables, there are things we can do to help the bees, along with the land and the things that grow from it. Using fewer pesticides is one of the most spoken of topics today. There are natural options that can be used, and learning about companion planting can also make a difference in garden pest control without damaging the bees. For some creative tips and tricks on gardening, check out this site chocked full of good information! One of the main things that anyone can do to contribute is planting pollinator friendly plants. Making pollen and nectar more accessible can make a big difference for bees trying to store enough food to survive the winter. Hives tended by a keeper will usually be supplemented throughout the winter with syrup, sugar, and pollen, but these things are only a substitute to help them through until spring. The natural food supplied by plants is still the best thing for them. If you’re interested in adding some bee (or other pollinator) friendly plant life to your area, you can check out the MO Conservation Department’s George O. White Nursery at Licking, MO, or the MO Wildflowers Nursery in Jefferson City. Whether it’s planting a flower, changing how you garden/landscape, or beginning your own beekeeping adventure, everyone can do something. Change begins one person at a time.
– the beekeeper’s daughter