Monday, May 11, 2009
I attended a plant sale over the weekend and in the process signed up for the master gardener program. I have been wanting to do this for a number of years, but always put it off. It probably won't start until fall. Now I have no excuses. While signing up I met the instructor and asked him if there were bee keepers who needed places to leave their hives.
He smiled indulgently and explained that most beekeepers will charge you to keep their hives on your property as it is a lot of work to maintain the hive. I mumbled something about just trying to keep the honey bees population strong.
He continued by saying that the honey bee is not indigenous to our area ( I think they were brought over from Europe) and they end up competing with a number of natural pollinators such as the solitary bees, the fly that looks like a bee and a number of pollinating wasps. There are about 4000 species of pollinators in the U.S. Clearly he saw honey bee colonies as an agricultural invader for woodlands. While they are important for agricultural crops, they are not important for gardens.
I had not thought about honey bees in this way, and now like many environmental causes/fads, I must re-think this.
We ended up buying the "solitary bee house" shown in the photo above, which probably was not needed unless I am detracting the carpenter bees from the wood in my house! And yes, an idiot can make this in 30 minutes. Is my face red!