The Howard Area Community Garden has officially joined forces with local apiarists Ryan Lee, Mark Bee, and Rosemary Sophia Limoncello to help rebuild dwindling bee populations and create better opportunities for healthy pollination in our own garden by installing our first ever beehive!
The funding for the hive was generously donated by Amanda Johnson via Ryan Lee's Kickstarter project, Rivendell Apiaries. Another hive was also donated in our name by Cathy Cagle, but it turns out that it wasn't a good fit for our space (Ryan will find it a good home, though!). Ryan came to the garden last fall to choose a good spot for the beehive to be placed, but before the season began, he was invited to take a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity by becoming an intern at the Spikenard Farm Honeybee Sanctuary in Vermont for a year. So he passed the bee baton to his friend Mark, who brought Rosemary on board as well.
Mark contacted us to let us know our bees had arrived (most of them were from California, but we have a queen from Hawaii!), and arranged to install the hive and bees on a chilly morning… the cold snap wasn't great for the bees, but it would have been worse to leave them in their tiny wooden travel box. We received three pounds of bees, which amounts to about 1,000 individuals. That's a LOT of bees!
Mark sprayed the 10 panels inside the brand new wooden hive with sugar water to help the bees get settled. Rosemary lit a small smoker filled with local grass, which is another way for the bees to learn the scent and figure out that this was their new home.
There is a bottle of sugar water hung onto the hive that the bees will survive on until the flowers open later this spring. They survived the plunging temperatures that hit two nights in a row after their arrival. So far, they seem to be thriving!
The bees are located in Plot 14 with Megan Wentz, a new gardener who volunteered to share her space with the bees. Please do NOT go into Megan's plot without permission, but do take a moment to walk by and check out the hive. These bees are incredibly docile and gentle… during their installation, they were moved and handled and not one of the four people there were stung.
Here's a link to a set of photos documenting the hive set-up:
One other thing you can do is to plant pollinator-friendly plants and flowers alongside your vegetables. The bees will be visiting our plots to gather nectar from our flowers, and while they do that, they will be carrying pollen from flower to flower, ensuring that our harvests will be fruitful. And bonus! If all goes well, there will be a collection of honey this fall… and there should be enough that we all can have a bit to take home and enjoy!
If you have any questions or concerns about the new hive, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, and we'll do our best to get answers quickly. Otherwise, enjoy our new garden partners, and know that we are doing a good thing for the earth and our children by growing our food organically (without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers), which will make the soil of our garden able to support life for years and years.
(If you are curious about why it is so vitally important for us to help bees, please read this article about colony collapse disorder.)