Why bees? Well, you do like to eat ...

Photo by Stephanie Reger

Bees are said to be responsible for one out of every three bites of food we eat. The Aggie horticulture website states, “Forget about honey, pollen and royal jelly. Just think of a world without beans, tomatoes, onions and carrots, not to mention the hundreds of other vegetables, oilseeds and fruits that are dependent upon bees for pollination. And the livestock that are dependent upon bee-pollinated forage plants, such as clover.”

Pollination is the transfer of pollen from the male parts of a flower to the female parts of a flower of the same species, which results in fertilization of plant ovaries and the production of seeds. Bees play such an important part in our world. The main insect pollinators, by far, are bees.

The Michigan State University website that details Pollination and the Ecosystem reminds us that bees make excellent pollinators because most of their life is spent collecting pollen: “Stiff hairs on their legs enable them to groom the pollen into specialized brushes on their legs or body and then carry it back to their nest. The business of collecting pollen requires a lot of energy and so many flowers attract and also reward bees with nectar, a mixture of water and sugars produced by plants.”

Bees were originally brought here from Europe. There are more than 20,000 known species of bees and they are found on every continent except Antarctica. Bees live in nests in soil or bore holes in pithy plant stems or in holes in trees. Bumble bees also nest in old rodent holes. They use lots of materials including their own waxy excretions and leaves and small pebbles to build their nests.

Bee populations are on the decline because of urban development and pesticide use, induding the use of pesticides to fight mosquito borne illnesses like Zika. Bees need our help! Try to use pesticides only when it’s the last resort. Keep your yard and garden alive with plants all year, if possible. Have plants with overlapping blooming times to help our lovely bees survive and “bee” happy. Agastache, Aubretia, Calendula, geraniums, monarda, lemon balm, Rudbeckia, salvias, sedums and verbascums are all favorites of the essential bee. Buy organic. Some excellent resources for more bee information include gardenerspath.com’s “The Buzz About Bees,” wikiHow’s “How to attract Honey Bees” and veggiepgardener.com’s  “Attracting Bees to the Garden.” Save the bees. Save the planet.

Pick up the phone and call (409) 835-8461 to learn more about our friend, the bee. Peggy Coleman at Texas Agri-Life will reserve a spot for you in the Beekeeping for Beginners class this Saturday, Sept. 10, at the Texas A&M Extension Service Auditorium at 1225 Pearl St. Coleman says registration is 8:30-9:00 a.m. with the program from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. The $25 registration fee includes lunch and both sessions. Brian Muldrow will handle the morning session: “Introduction to Beekeeping.” Afternoon sessions topics will include: “Top Bar Hives,” “Plants and Bees” and “Natural Pests of Bees.”