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Garden Delights

A selection of thoughts and ramblings about life in the garden.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Bee Shortage?

There's been a lot of press lately about the current bee shortage. Current estimates say that the honeybee population has declined by fifty percent in the last fifty years.

You could have fooled me.

I have no shortage of bees. Honeybees, bumblebees, sweatbees... You name it, I have them. I have so many bees I tend to have a problem with plants self-sowing on a cosmic scale. So I find it difficult to believe there's a bee shortage.

Well. Not really.

I live in the midst of corn country USA. What they've got here is basically one giant corn field. And that's it. Corn, corn, and more corn. Well, sometimes soybeans. Very few windrows. In fact, every year I watch them rip out the few remaining windrows that are left.

Now where's a self-respecting bee supposed to live?

Better yet, what's it supposed to eat?

In my yard, I have plants that bloom from the time the snow melts til the first snowfall. My bees have no lack of food. So it's really not surprising there's a bee shortage when farmers plant one crop, then get rid of all weeds, flowers and alternative pollen producers. No wonder they have to import bee hives to pollinate their orchards and fields. No self-respecting bees would hang out in that kind of a neighborhood.

There are over 20,000 types of bees in the world. Take a good look at that number. Twenty-thousand. That's a whole lot of bees. And somehow there's still a bee shortage.


When I first moved in to my present location, the neighbors had an old apple tree that never had any apples. Then I started my flower planting campaign. Now the silly thing is loaded with them every year. No one sprays them so they're pretty much just annoying, but they are still apples, pollinated by bees. Bees that showed up for the flowers and decided they liked the neighborhood. It probably helps that I use as few chemicals as possible.

I once read an article in National Geographic about hedgerows. Hedgerows don't seem to be very popular with commercial farmers. I can't imagine why. Aside from the whole erosion control thing, they also house a myriad of beneficial animals and insects. Birds to eat bugs. Bugs to eat bugs. Bees to pollinate the crops. They also do a darned good job of wind control too.

My advice to farmers?

Plant windrows.
Plant flowers in your orchards.

Stop relying on just the honeybee.

If you build it, they will come.


At 6:42 PM, Blogger Sue said...

I liked this entry. It is true of so much in life: If you build it, they will come.

I have a question though: What is a windrow?

At 10:17 PM, Blogger Lulu said...

A windrow is that narrow patch of trees, shrubs, and grass that separates fields from each other. They're maybe 12 feet wide and around here they make for great blackberry picking. I suppose they originally started as a place to put rocks when the fields were cleared, or perhaps as property lines. They are still very much in use in Great Britain.


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