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Interested in Helping Bees? There are many ways….

February 19th, 2011 by melanie

There are many! folks interested these days in helping with the honeybee and native bee decline. New pests and pathogens are taking a toll on our beneficial pollinators and should we all want to continue to eat, we can work together to promote and enhance the necessary habitat for sustainable honeybee and native bee populations. Establishing natural forage for these winged angels of agriculture will promote their overall nutrition and their ability to naturally combat pests and diseases.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to keep bees these days, and more specifically, to keep them healthy. Many people are interested in learning the dying art of beekeeping with honeybees. However, one should consider their location, the saturation of other beekeepers and bees and their time availability.

No use getting bees if one is unable to devote the necessary time needed to manage them respectfully. And no use getting bees, if one doesn’t also inform themselves of timely management techniques, the reality of pests and diseases, and methods for therapy. 

If interested in becoming a beekeeper, the best place to start is by connecting with area beekeepers through clubs. Finding a mentor or several can help immensely as beekeeping is very site specific. The more hands on one can gain before acquiring their own bees, the better for the steward and most definitely for the bees they intend to keep.

There are many philosophies and management practices; learning several variations can help one to determine what works well for them, their bees and their perspective. There is no one single right way to keep bees. It ultimately depends on circumstance, location and of course, Mother Nature. 

Beekeepers need to learn to adapt to her dynamic interface and the needs of their bees. Each season is different, and if you are here in NM, the microclimates are ever changing, so management may differ from year to year. Keeping oneself informed of the regional and global challenges will sincerely help in the long run. Subscriptions to both The American Bee Journal and Bee Culture magazines is highly recommended.

We ourselves, own no land. We rely on the generosity and interests of our community members for our bees’ forage. What folks plant and water will have a major impact on the forage availability for pollinators. Planting bee friendly flowers and herbs is one way which community members can help.

Another is to look to help curb the threat of pesticide and herbicide contamination. Do not use toxic sprays on your plants. Any little creature that visits these plants will have their nutrition compromised, their immune system toxified and ultimately, will be unable to handle the stresses of Mother Nature.

There are over 500 species of native bees present in New Mexico. These native bees do not produce honey, but do help with early spring pollination. They are dormant for most of the year so reliance on them for summer pollination of gardens doesn’t match their lifecycle. However, they are indeed valuable to our ecosystems and we can look to support them and their necessary habitats. Visit www.pollinatorparadise.com for more info.

The New Mexico Native Bee Pollinator Project (copied from pollinator paradise)

Calling all Gardeners!! Join an initiative for
Bee Habitat Corridors

Vision: a string of farms and gardens across the New Mexico landscape with habitat that supports both honeybees and native bee species. Our bees are facing extraordinary threats today with problems like colony collapse & pesticide poisonings. With the honeybees (an imported species) in jeopardy, we need to ensure that essential pollination services continue. Without these services a significant number of our agricultural crops would fail. There are about 4000 wild bee species in North America, some of whom help significantly with pollination when given habitat. In New Mexico, we don’t yet know all the native species.  NM bee specialists welcome more info from the field than they can collect themselves.

To join the collaborative, contact:
Patty Parks-Wasserman (normal telecommunications): patty@permacultureforchildren.net 
Laurie Lange (slow track communication): botanicarts@earthlink.net

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