Going the Extra Mile for Pollinators

by Sandy Swegel

You know the basics for saving bees and other pollinators:

- Create a native plant wildflower habitat that provides season-long sources of pollen and nectar.

 – Provide a water source if a natural one is not available.

 – Stop your own use of pesticides that affect bees.

Just doing those three things will do a lot to invite pollinators to your yard and give them safe harbor.

This week, I’ll be posting about people and organizations who do even more…who go the extra mile for pollinators, sometimes with the simplest measures.

Winter Feeding Pollen Patties My neighbor Kathy has kept bees and for many years on a large suburban lot and like many beekeepers has endured the increased death of hives in recent years.  Going into this winter, she was very pessimistic about one of her hives that had almost no honey stores.  Since she had lost healthy hives in the past, she wasn’t too hopeful about a weak hive.  However, she found a new product for feeding bees in winter….rather than just putting out sugar water, she fed her bees Winter Pollen Patties. She used a product by Dadent and simply put the flat sheets of pollen substitute right on top of the bees.  When this Spring turned into a disaster for pollinators (multiple late freezes meant no spring blossoms on trees, a significant source of food for bees and other pollinators), Kathy continues to put the pollen patties in her hives.  Both hives are thriving the best she has seen in years.  And both hives are making babies.

It wasn’t a lot of work to go the extra mile of feeding bees in winter.  You have to learn to think about beekeeping from a bee’s perspective:  What does the bee need to eat?  The protein of pollen, not just sugar.  Just like humans can’t survive on soda.

Once you get your pollinator habitat growing, start thinking about what the next extra mile is you can do for pollinators in your garden.  Perhaps it’s nesting sites for wild bees. Perhaps it’s educating a neighbor about pesticides.  Let’s share our knowledge about what are the extra things that make a difference.

For more info on scientific methods for feeding bees in winter, check out “Scientific Beekeeping” http://scientificbeekeeping.com/fat-bees-part-2/

For a video on how to feed pollen patties:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBZCL33fNHY

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