April 30, 2009

Bee Friendly and Save the Hives

The bees are welcome in my garden and we are fortunate to have three feral (wild) bee hives located within three miles of our home. How do we know?

A friend of ours, Ronnie Bouchon, is a beekeeper of managed hives. He created and supports a website called Save the Hives in an effort to help protect feral bee hives. The site includes a map of hive locations. Our neighbors registered their hives for the Feral Bee Project and that's how we discovered the homes of our visiting bees. You can check the map to see if there are hives located in your area. The Save the Hives site includes information about how to "beeline" to find the location of hives. If you have located a feral hive, you can also register it on the site.

A guest column, Let's Hear It for the Bees, in the New York Times provides a fascinating story about how the bees know when flowers produce nectar:
Flowers of a given species all produce nectar at about the same time each day, as this increases the chances of cross-pollination. The trick works because pollinators, which in most cases means the honeybee, concentrate foraging on a particular species into a narrow time-window. In effect the honeybee has a daily diary that can include as many as nine appointments — say, 10:00 a.m., lilac; 11:30 a.m., peonies; and so on. The bees’ time-keeping is accurate to about 20 minutes.
Here are a few of the plants in my garden that are loved by bees (and butterflies):

oakleaf holly

Of course, there are many more nectar plants than what I am growing. Gardeners who grow vegetables and fruit are providing nectar for the bees. There are also food sources among the wild flowering native plants, weeds and clover, too.

Gardeners love to have colorful blooms in spring, summer and fall. We have a great reason to go buy more nectar plants - we need to provide bees, both managed and feral, with blooms during these seasons, too!

Photo and story by Freda Cameron
Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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