In continued #WeSowWeGrow business, I spent the majority of this summer learning about things that would help make our community garden bolster next year. One of the things that I have been really thinking about doing was adding a a bee hive. I’m sure that I could find someone that could come once a month to remove honey, and all of that. I’ll have to think about it more. Last month I spent time with the Feed a Bee initiative at the Cantigny Golf Course learning all I could about bees and their effect on our food production.
I headed to Cantigny Golf Course, in Wheaton, IL, to spend a day with the bees, and learn how they are helping keep the golf course beautiful and provide honey for sale. It was really nice to see the golf course catering to the bees instead of the other way around. To see a large prairie like space that the bees and other pollinators could flit from one flower to the other. Scott Witte, the Superintendent and Director of Argronomy of the golf course, led our tour around the space, and his passion was electric. He’s been working at Cantigny for 22 years, and has recently added beekeeper to his resume. He has a total of six hives that he maintains, which he says is the perfect amount. He had 8, but they proved to be a bit too much for upkeep. We were able to check out one of his more technologically savvy hives as well. It keeps the temperature in the hive at a perfect temperature so that bees are focused on creating honey, and coming back to the hive.
We did see two feral bee hives right on the golf course. There is plenty of signage around to keep golfers away from the flight path of the bees, and that way, they are able to pollinate and keep from stinging or being killed. The main purpose of the bee project on the golf course is to call to attention the need for honey bees, and their impact on creating food on Earth. It’s pretty necessary to form a partnership with bees, and that’s why I’m looking to add a hive or two to the Union Avenue Garden.
After touring the entire course, we were treated to dinner that had various components from the bees in it. Whether it was honey and lavender lamb chops, or smoked honey with brie ( SO GOOD) the day was fantastic.
We did learn a few key bee facts while there, and one that I was surprised to hear was the fact that bee populations are NOT dwindling, but food sources are. Which is why it’s important to plant bee gardens in areas around your home. The amount of food that we ate from our garden that was helped because of bees and other pollinators was HUGE. Did you know that one third of the food consumed by humans as a whole is from pollination. It’s serious around these parts to protect the bees that help feed us.
You can start now, yes in the fall to make sure that you are set for the bees next spring and summer. Planning out where you would like for your pollinator garden to be is crucial. You want a space that is open for flight for the bees and other pollinating animals.
If you are looking for a little bit more help, you can go to your local garden center, or even home improvement store with a garden center and ask them what they suggest. Remember, you don’t want to spray to keep them away, so make sure those plants are treated with spray if possible.
Stay tuned to the blog for more hints on increasing pollinators in your garden, and remember to feed a bee today!
Many thanks to Crop Science, a division of Bayer, for sponsoring this post.