The Friends of the Farm at Hilltop, the Suffield Land Conservancy and the Green Team at Second Baptist Church are partnering to offer a workshop to learn about these wonderful, hard-working and very beneficial animals. It will be held on Sunday, March 3, at 3 p.m. in the Second Baptist Church on Main Street. After learning about the bees and how we can help them survive in today’s world, we will craft bee hotels to provide essential shelter for them and their young.
Many of North America’s more than 4,000 species of native bees are declining, including bumble bees, mainly due to habitat destruction and pesticide use. While our native bees do not produce large amounts of honey like the non-native honey bee, they are more efficient pollinators and are essential to the production of at least 80% of our food crops. Planting wildflowers and other native plants that create habitat for native bees, around gardens and farm fields, can increase crop yield up to 50 percent. It is a win–win situation for the bees and the gardeners.
The best flowers for creating pollinator habitat are locally native perennials and annuals with a variety of bloom times so there is always a source of food from spring to fall. Choose open flowers, like asters, that are easily accessible to most bees, in yellow, blue or purple. These are preferable to “double” flowers that are harder to access and often produce less pollen and nectar.
Providing shelter and nesting sites also helps the bees. Many native bees nest in the ground, so leaving bare soil (no mulch) around a few shrubs will benefit them. Dead tree limbs, hollow stems, twigs and other plant debris will provide places for other types of bees to nest.
Eliminate pesticide use in your yard. Pesticides do not discriminate between good and bad bugs and often kill more beneficial ones than harmful. Do not buy plants or seeds that have been treated with neonicotinoids. These chemicals are absorbed and distributed within the plant as it grows, including the pollen and nectar. The treated plants can kill any insect that feeds on them, from the time they sprout until they die.
If you would like to attend the workshop on March 3, please register at: http://www.hilltopfarmsuffield.org. For more information about native bees and how you can help them, please check out: www.pollinator.org nativebeesofnewengland.com, or NAPPC.