Honeybees and the Environment

On Thursday March 16th Patti Nagai and Peter Poli gave a presentation on “Honeybees and the Environment” at the Golden Rondelle. Peter Poli is the President of the Racine-Kenosha Beekeepers Association. He keeps bees, responds to honeybee swarm calls, and is a self-labeled environmental advocate. Patti Nagai is a Professor at the UW Extension and is a Horticulturist and Gardener.
Peter described the honeybee as a fuzzy vegetarian that lives near nectar and pollen sources. It can only sting once, and is often mistaken for a wasp or yellow jacket. The honeybee colony consists of the workers, drones, and the queen. In addition to making honey, honeybees pollinate the fruits and vegetables we eat, as well as trees, flowers, and other plants. Beekeeping helps with pollination, but doesn’t actually help the native honeybee population. It can have negative effects such as introducing new diseases to the native bees. We can help native honeybees by improving their habitat. This can be done in a number of ways, such as reducing the use of lawn maintenance chemicals and leaving dandelions in your yard, as they are an important early nectar source for the honeybees. Converting lawn to natural prairie increases the habitat for honeybees and other wildlife and requires less maintenance. A Dutch clover lawn is also a bee friendly option and is aesthetically pleasing.
Patti discussed how to ‘garden for good’ and provide plants for pollinators. It is important to have bee-friendly garden practices because they keep us fed, pollinating over 1/3 of our fruits and vegetables. Honeybees will take advantage of many sources of pollen. Early spring flowers and plants such as dandelions support emerging queens and workers. It is important to avoid using pesticides. It is beneficial to plant diverse types of plants to add variety. All gardens can support local pollinators, with plant diversity and environmental care. Bees are best supported by gardens that have plants for every season. They love flowers with the colors blue, white, and yellow. Butterflies, flies, and moths are also important pollinators.
Peter and Patti gave amazing and informative presentations on how we can help native honeybees. By taking action in our own yards, we can increase their habitat and protect these valuable pollinators.

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