Last week, a friend told me that she was helping to save the bees. I asked her, "What's wrong with the bees and how are you helping them?" Since 2006 there has been a decline in the global bee population. Perfectly healthy honeybees are abandoning their hives and not returning. Scientists do not know why this is occurring but they do know that it is a major problem!
Honeybees pollinate $15 billion a year in U.S. crops including tomatoes, almonds, squash, cucumbers and apples. They pollinate 1/3 of the nation's produce and they generate $150 million in honey sales.
Long story short, the loss of honeybees is of huge concern to everyone! No honeybees = no pollination. No pollination = no food!
(Well maybe that's a BIT dramatic but honeybees are extremely important.)
My friend told me that bees are losing their habitats to development and that one of the easiest things you could do to help the bees is to plant a bee garden. Any bright colored flowers would attract bees and provide them with food. Having a longtime urge for local honey, I thought I'd take this one step further and keep a hive in my yard. While this seemed easy enough I knew that there was a lot I would need to learn before I just set up a home for bees and started collecting their honey.
Coincidently, the very next day I came across an article in The Providence Journal about beekeeping classes being offered in Saunderstown. Longtime beekeeper Lou Chasse, executive vice president of the Rhode Island Beekeepers Association, invites beekeepers to his house every second Saturday for hands-on experience and pointers for working with beehives. Here, people can practice handling a real hive before they get their own. Chasse said a lot of new people who are growing gardens want bees to pollinate their flowers and vegetables. They also start the hives because they are concerned about the disappearance of honeybees.
Jim Lawson, the bee inspector for the Department of Environmental Management, says that there are about 300 Rhode Islanders who have registered their hives (as required by that state) and about 100 more who haven't.
By mid-summer I hope to have my own hive started! Not only will I be helping the honeybees and pollination of flowers and vegetation but I will also be getting my own local honey!