Doing Your Best For Maine’s Bees

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by Cassie Steele, Freelance Writer
Photo by Massimiliano Latella

 

The hardworking bee is the lifeblood of countless ecosystems. Unfortunately, they are facing challenges across the world. The good news is that Maine is doing awesome work every day to try and preserve these important creatures – over 250 species of bee are native to Maine, according to researcher Emily du Houx, and scientists are undertaking work to ensure their survival.

With bee numbers fairly high, Maine homeowners play an important role in the vitality of the bee community by providing pollination opportunities. There are two ways to achieve this responsibility – establishing a hive, or simply making a garden bee-friendly and hoping to introduce or develop hives. Judicious planting will help superbly in either situation.

For those seeking a hive – Creating a bee paradise

For those lucky enough to have the time and equipment, preserving bee populations and helping them to grow is achieved through constructing hives. With natural bee habitats declining, as Smithsonian Mag have mapped, it’s incredibly helpful to create new homes for their colonies. This also helps species to diversify away from the mass-produced honey hives which are prone to disease and lower eco-diversity.

When you’re erecting a beehive in the hopes of creating an idyllic scenario for the honey-makers, take a whole-job view. You should only use natural pesticides and fertilizers on your plants, and encourage neighbors too, as well. Consider the other tools bees need – for instance, bee baths provide sustenance in hot summer months. Essentially, think about every need the insect could need and carefully tend to it.

Planting to encourage wild species

If you don’t have the opportunity to create a hive of your own, there’s still much you can do to help bees. Planting properly is crucial, however. Instead of having perennials, or flower species that bloom at only one time in the year, plan for an all-round harvest. This way, bees will have the opportunity to thrive at all times of year and not suffer during winter months.

For Maine, UM has a comprehensive list of bee-friendly plants.  As a taster, these include blueberries, crocus, snapdragon, and marigold. All can call Maine home and are entirely growable with a little touch of green fingers. Keep them going all year and this will help both colony and individual bees to flourish, to the benefit of the entire community and your garden’s biodiversity.

Bees are the lifeblood of gardens. They provide growth, they guarantee biodiversity and are a sign of the vitality of any ecosystem. Ensuring their survival, and helping them flourish, is in everyone’s best interests – and will give you a beautiful garden to boot.

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