Part three in our series, Beekeeping 101.
There’s no doubt honeybees and other pollinators are in trouble. US beekeepers lost 42% of their colonies from spring of 2014 to spring of 2015.
To the beekeepers credit, the overall number of colonies has remained steady for the past several years. But with losses mounting, they say they can’t keep going on like this much longer.
So how can you help the honeybee and other pollinators? Here’s the Rogue Farms National Pollinator Week guide to making a difference.
Plant More Flowers
The best way is to plant more native wildflowers, trees and bushes that produce pollen and nectar. Honeybees need both to survive.
Plant a variety of species that flower at different times of year. You can grow flowers from spring through fall with some planning, and the bees will appreciate having food sources available through the seasons.
Plant native species that are more resistant to pests and diseases.
Avoid or reduce the use of pesticides. If you must spray, do it late in the day after pollinators are done foraging. Also, keep the plants healthy so they can more easily resist pests on their own.
- Don’t freak out over honeybee swarms. Swarms are harmless if you keep your distance, and they’re a sign that the hive is healthy. Call a beekeeper who’ll capture the swarm and find a new home for it.
The Xerces Society has a ton of information about what to grow in your part of the country.
What Is Rogue Farms Doing?
We send our 7,140,289 honeybees south to California every year where they spend the winter months in an almond orchard. Almond pollen and nectar are very nutritious and our bees don’t have to be clustered in the hive to keep out Oregon’s chilly and wet winter weather.
We grow a diversity of food sources for them. The Rogue Farms honeybees pollinate our Dream Pumpkins, Jalapeños and Prickless Marionberries, so we put their hives right next to those fields. The honeybees also forage in our neighbors’ apple and cherry orchards in spring, as well as the gazillions of wild blackberries, clover and other flowers that bloom in the fields during summer. Finally, we seed acres of wildflowers just for the bees.
- When we harvest honey, we only gather from the top boxes of the hive where the surplus honey is stored. We leave behind what’s in the lower boxes so the bees can feed themselves.
Come out to Rogue Farms during National Pollinator Week and see how we grow honey, beer, spirits, ciders and sodas.