JoAnne Skelly: More for the bees


Last week I wrote about bees and pollinators to get ready for Pollinator Month in June. Gillian Kerr, long-time beekeeper, and Linda Groves, master beekeeper, answered more of my questions about beekeeping.
Who can a home gardener call if they want to put bees in their yard? And what should they know first?
Contacting your local bee club is a good place to start if you are thinking about buying equipment and bees of your own or if you want to host a hive on your property for pollination purposes. Becoming knowledgeable by taking classes, reading books, researching online, and joining a bee club before you get your bees will make your new hobby more rewarding and successful. Raising bees is not much different than raising cats or dogs, they have specific needs.
What you need to consider before putting bees in your yard:
Bees are time consuming
Beekeeping is a VERY expensive investment
Most areas need a bear fence around the hives
Having your bees die for whatever reason is disappointing
No two seasons of beekeeping are the same
Consider how much forage is available at your home and surrounding areas. This is critical!
Know where the nearest water source is
Local state and city ordinances must be considered before getting hives
Ask yourself, do you want bees for pollination or honey? Honey cannot be taken without considerable thought.
If, after all of your research, you choose to become a beekeeper, you will experience a miracle watching the amazing honey bees. In addition, you will meet like-minded people who love their bees!
Can you recommend good books about bees for the home gardener?
A great resource about forage for bees is 100 Plants to FEED THE BEES, Lee-Mäder, E., Fowler, J., Vento, J., and Hopwood, J. (2016, The Xerces Society) available at the Carson City Library. Greenhouse Garden Center and Gift Shop has local plant information including growing instructions. For a book about beginning beekeeping, The Backyard Beekeeper, 4th Edition: An Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Keeping Bees in Your Yard and Garden, Flottum, K., (2018) is a good choice. An excellent online resource is The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation at https://xerces.org/
For those who want to plant more pollinator-attracting flowers consider these nectar and pollen perennials: bee balm, Rocky Mountain beeplant, blackeyed Susan, blue flax, sulfur-flowered buckwheat, candytuft, purple coneflower, coreopsis, creeping thyme, lupines, catmint, milkweed, penstemon, snow-in-summer and yarrow. Some pollinator feeding shrubs include: butterfly bush, Apache plume, currant, elderberry, honeysuckle, Russian sage, serviceberry and Wood’s rose.
Good luck and keep planting for the pollinators!
JoAnne Skelly is Associate Professor & Extension Educator Emerita, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. Email skellyj@unr.edu.

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