Important Pollinators

I have been getting ready for our CSA season to start. Our first pick up of the season will be Thursday June 27th, this is where members receive the highest quality, just picked vegetables on a weekly basis.  Operating a CSA helps to provide the farm with resources to successfully harvest season after season.  Becoming a CSA member, is one way the community can support its local farms. 

2012 CSA pick up
2012 CSA pick up

Everyday I go out into the field and look up into our old giant oak tree to check on the wild bee hive that has taken up residency since the spring.  Bees and other pollinators are extremely important to the farm.  Almost all vegetables require assistance with pollination.  Pollination is the way plants develop seeds, and without seeds fruit does not grow.  There are nearly 20,000 known bee species in the world, and 4,000 of them are native to the United States.  But many agricultural crops worldwide are pollinated by imported European honeybees.

Giant oak tree in our field
Giant oak tree in our field

Back in 2006 many beekeepers around the world, started noticing a large disappearance of European honeybees. Seemingly healthy bees were simply abandoning their hives en masse, never to return. Researchers call the mass disappearance colony collapse disorder, which has only affected European honeybees.  It is not known what exactly causes this disappearance but recent studies prompted by a formal 2013 peer review by the European Food Safety Authority, said that pesticides pose an unacceptably high risk to bees, and that the industry-sponsored science upon which regulatory agencies’ safety claims have relied, are flawed.  This past April, the European Union announced plans to restrict the use of certain pesticides to stop bee populations from declining further.  

Pollinator at work
Pollinator at work

Even though colony collapse disorder does not affect native bees, some native bees and other pollinators are also experiencing population declines.   Native bee species are being affected by at least some of the same factors affecting European honeybees such as habitat loss and the use of pesticides.  To increase or improve habitat for native bees, plant a diversity of pollen and nectar sources that bloom at various times during the year. Avoid the use of pesticides and provide a source of water, and mud, which is used as a nesting material by some bee species.  You can also provide nesting habitat for bees by building a simple bee house.  Making your garden pollinator friendly, will help to increase the bee population at large.  

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