Bug Squad Happenings in the insect world By Kathy Keatley Garvey September 15, 2014
Do you have a little land to spare, such as a quarter of an acre or up to three acres? For honey bee habitat?
The Pollinator Partnership, as part of its U.S. Bee Buffer Project, wants to partner with California farmers, ranchers, foresters, and managers and owners to participate in a honey bee forage habitat enhancement effort. It's called the U.S. Bee Buffer Project and the goal is to "borrow" 6000 acres to plant honey bee seed mix.
It will create a foraging habitat of pollen and nectar, essential to honey bee health. And there's no charge for the seed mix.
What a great project to help the beleaguered honey bees!
"Beekeepers struggle to find foraging areas to feed their bees when they are not in a pollination contract," said "idea generator" Kathy Kellison of Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, a strong advocate of keeping bees healthy. "Lack of foraging habitat puts stress on the bees and cropping systems honey bees pollinate. The U.S. Bee Buffer Project will develop a network of honey bee forage habitats in agricultural areas to support honey bee health and our own food systems. We are looking for cooperators with land they are willing to set aside as Bee Buffers."
Kellison points out:
- Honey bees provide pollination services for 90 crops nationwide.
- A leading cause for over-winter mortality of honey bee colonies given by beekeepers surveyed is starvation. The nationwide winter loss for 2012/2013 was 31.3 percent.
The requirements, she said, are minimal:
- Access to an active farm, ranch, forest, easement, set-aside, or landscape
- Ability to plant 0.25 to 3 acres with the U.S. Bee Buffer seed mix
- Commitment to keep the Bee Buffer in place
- Allow beekeepers and researchers on-site
Of course, the benefits to the participants include free seeds and planting information; supplemental pollination of flowering plants; and leadership participation in the beginnings of a nationwide effort to support honey bees. Then there's the potential for enriched soil, reduction in invasive plant species, and enhanced wildlife habitat.
And, we made add, a sense of accomplishment as bees forage on your thriving plants.
Those interested in participating in this nationwide effort and hosting a Bee Buffer, can visit http://www.pollinator.org/beebuffer.htm to fill out a brief eligibility questionnaire. More information is available from Mary Byrne at the Pollinator Partnership at (415) 362-1137 or email@example.com.