Honey Bees

Honey Bees in Danger

By Jeff Brighton, Summit Community Gardens BeeKeeper

Our humble Honey Bee and other native pollinators are in trouble and need our help. Monoculture farms, extensive use of pesticides, bee parasites and diseases all play a role in the current bee health crisis. This past winter, U.S. beekeepers experienced record breaking colony losses – over 40% of commercially managed hives did not survive the winter. For more information on the complex and causes of the decline of bees, google YouTube’s TED talk titled “Why Bees are Disappearing” by Dr. Marla Spivak. 

Concerned citizens may wonder what they can do individually to help support Honey Bee health. Here are a few suggestions: 

  1. Plant bee-friendly plants. Our flowering gardens are the grocery stores bees visit. Planting a variety of flowering shrubs and perennials on a rotating bloom cycle is a primo way to provide pollen and nectar to bees. Salvia, coneflowers, lavender and butterfly bush appeal to our bees in addition to a wildflower mix, clover and alfalfa in wild grasses.
  2. Limit the use of pesticides.  Inadvertent exposure to pesticides kills bees. If you must spray, avoid spraying blooming plants and spray at the end of the day when exposure is less.
  3. Have a few acres? Consider hosting a few hives on your property. Beekeepers depend on their community to provide suitable sites for setting up bee apiaries. Check out Utahbeekeepers.com to connect to local beekeepers. 
  4.  Buy local honey.  Farmers markets usually have at least one local honey.  If you cannot find Summit County honey, there are great Utah honey options at local markets.
  5. Donate.  Several non-profit groups are actively working on solutions to this crisis. Check out Project Apis M., The Pollinator Stewardship Council, or The Foundation for the Preservation of Honey Bees.  Private donations are the lifeblood of ongoing research.

Recycle Utah, your community non-profit drop-off recycling center, provides these weekly tips. Visit their website for more information – www.recycleutah.org.