August 19, 2017 — the third Saturday of the month — is National Honey Bee Day. This year’s theme is “For A Natural High: Smoke Some Bees!” That theme, of course, refers to the process of harvesting honey from bee hives.
Recognized by then Secretary of Agriculture of the United States Thomas J. Vilsek on August 11, 2009, National Honey Bee Day was first held on August 22, 2009 as a way for bee keeping associations and related industry and clubs to build community awareness of the honey bee industry. Today, however, it has the added responsibility of addressing some of the issues that affect all bees — native and non-native — and our native pollinators.
We now know that the number of honey bees and our native pollinators are in decline due to a host of reasons — disease, parasites, pesticides, loss of habitat, etc. This decline effects not only our local agriculture, but also our backyard gardens. Beekeepers may be important for large scale food production, but bees in general are important for local pollination for humans as well as the animals, insects and birds dependent upon local habitat for their livelihood. Let’s take the time to reflect on this National Honey Bee Day on the importance of bees and pollinators and what life would be like if we no longer had them.
Monitored by Heather Holm, a good discussion group to follow is Pollinators and Native Plants. Heather is a horticulturist, biologist and researcher, as well as a writer, designer, and publisher focusing on native bees and native plants.
While visiting our hunting property recently, I filmed this bumblebee (Bombus impatiens) nectaring in a Common Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum). One of my favorite plants because of its unique, highly textured leaves, its stem looks like it grows right through the paired leaves. Boneset grows well in most soils, but prefers a wet mesic environment.