Spring brings warmer air, blooming flowers and pollen. While many of you suffer from pollen allergies, plant pollination is not to be overlooked when it comes to our food supply. Bees play an essential role.
Susan Bridges is a member of the Spartanburg Beekeepers Association. Learning about beekeeping led to his own beehives.
“I’ve always liked to learn and I’m a gardener. And when I noticed that I didn’t have that many pollinators in my garden, I thought to myself, you know, I’ll try to go learn something about beekeeping.
Bees typically travel within a one to two mile radius of the hive. They collect pollen to bring back to the hive for food, but they also pollinate flowers as they travel. This ensures that the flowers will turn into seeds, nuts or fruits…depending on the plant.
They also bring plant nectar; it is the cornerstone of honey production.
Beekeeping is not just about making honey. This is to ensure that the bees are safe and healthy. Susan said that’s because they pollinate so much of the food you eat.
“One in three bites of food we eat is pollinated by insects…so the bee, being a pollinator, is very important for that. It is estimated in the United States that fifteen billion dollars of the value of our crops are due to the bee alone.
Therefore, bee welfare is important. But they face challenges.
“A lot of people think pesticides are what kill a lot of hives. But if we’re responsible and we’re using pesticides on the label, and not off-label like they’re not supposed to be used, you don’t have not many pesticides killed.
“But I think today one of the things we know is that most of our hive losses are due to the varroa destructor mite.”
“This mite was actually first noticed in the United States in 1987 and now we find that it feeds on the fat bodies of bees, and it also transfers viruses from hive to hive to hive and there is no there’s no vaccination for that.”
The weather can also be a factor. Prolonged rain, cold or wind keeps the bees in the hive, which means no food enters.
Susan said there are ways to help these busy bees.
“Plant things for pollination. Bees tend to prefer a mass of flowers, so don’t just plant one of this and one of that. They do best if you have a large flowerbed of that same type of flower source.
“If you have bees inside your house, call one of the beekeepers, and they have people who will remove them from inside your house. don’t kill.
Other insects can pollinate, but the size of bee colonies makes them the most effective pollinators. Something we don’t want to lose.
Local beekeeping organizations have more about bees and beekeeping. They are also the main contacts when eliminating swarms of bees, as they will remove and relocate bees.
In addition to Spartanburg Beekeepers Association, there are other local beekeeping organizations in the area that can help you. Visit the sites for South Carolina Beekeepers Associationthe North Carolina State Beekeepers Associationor the Georgia Beekeepers Association and search for local beekeeping clubs in your area.