A marine biologist by trade, Laura Klahre, founder of Blossom Meadow, is a beekeeper in the North Fork of Eastern Long Island. During August 2016, she was kind enough to enlighten my team and I on the lives of bees. After having a dream in 1997 that she was a beekeeper, she started beekeeping with one beehive, which eventually grew to 100 beehives.
Listen to my podcast with Laura by clicking below. In addition, watch my visit to her home and get a close look into her beehives by watching the videos below.
Notes from my visit
Below are are notes and videos from my visit to Blossom Meadow.
Look inside a beehive
In the video below, you can take a close look into a beehive.
Colony Collapse Disorder and the Pollinator Crisis
The populations of bees and other pollinators have been declining at alarming rates in recent years. More of us should become engaged in the issue because pollinators are essential for food production. You can read more about this in my blog post, "What we should learn from the immunity of bees."
What you can do to help
In the meantime, below is a summary of recommendations from Laura on what we can do to help. Laura notes that every small action can make a difference. At the global level, to preserve our bees we have to improve the environments in which they collect food. Below are steps you can pursue this spring/summer.
Plant flowers. Planting flower borders with bee-friendly flowers in your garden can provide food for both wild and domestic bees.
Avoid using herbicides or pesticides when gardening. This is good for both you, your family, and bees and other pollinators.
Even mowing the lawn less often can help bees out.
You could install a native bee hive or insect hotel. Since with bees, like with humans, "life is an energy budget." Placing homes for bees near flowers helps bees conserve their energy.
Activities with kids
Assess your yard as a food desert or a smorgasbord of food for bees. Consider where you can plant flowers, provide bee "hotels," as you consider that bees have an energy budget. Listen to the podcast with beekeeper, Laura Klahre of Blossom Meadow, to learn more.
Plant flowers. Plant lemon queens sunflowers (the tall ones). They are a gateway...
Watch pollinators. Watch all the different bees that go to a flower, and their interactions.
Bees can be solitary or social.
With bumble bees, males and females look different.
Solitary bees don't talk vs honey bees / bumble bees communicate via dance.
As you and your family start noticing more insects, remember that you can upload photos of insects onto Whatsthatbug.com to ask experts to help you identify the species, which can help you identify nontoxic pest management opportunities.
The Great Sunflower Project: Start looking at the different kind of bees. In a few months, a seed can turn into a 10 foot tall sunflower.
Beekeeper, Laura Klahre of Blossom Meadow, recommended the books in the picture below.
Bees are a female-dominated society
In the video below, you can listen more to Laura Klahre discuss the queen bee, and the female-dominated interactions of bees.
Honey bees get a lot of attention because they make honey. Taste of honey is dependent on flowers that the bees visit; color of honey varies by season (spring produces lighter-colored honey; and fall honey is darker in color).
Honeybees is where all the data is because people like honey. So honeybees are tracked.
Native bees fly all over the place. Not all are identified.
Honey bees are not native, they are from Europe
Honeybees live in colonies. Blow smoke so they think there's a forest fire. The bees then start eating honey to take to another location. They are then so full that they won't want to fight anyone.
4,000 bee species nationwide; within Northeast, and including within NYS, there are 450 different kinds. 30% of them are tunnel nesters so they live in hollow plant stems, in cavities in dead trees, holes in drift wood, and in chimes. They look to find a home.
70% of bees live in the ground. Over 300 bee species live in the ground.
Role of queen bee is to lay eggs
Queen bees have a gland on their heads that make royal jelly
Mates with an average of 14 males and stores the sperm in her
Flies are actually good pollinators. Carrot seed producers use flies to pollinate flowers.
Flies don't mind being caged, unlike bees.
Concerns with current farming system
Some farmers use high fructose corn syrup but farmers can use sugar and water. Best is to provide natural honey for the bees.
Migratory beekeepers. Bees get moved around to work.
Pollen is protein source, nectar is carbohydrate source. The only reason a plant has nectar is to attract pollinators because they need to spread their pollen to other flowers. Pollinators that are furry are better than those that are not furry.
Protein source for wasps and yellow jackets are dead insects and meat
Wasps and yellow jackets are very important in the ecosystem
Nontoxic Pest Management
Sophia had a dynamic colony of underground wasps during the summer of 2016. During Sophia's visit with beekeeper, Laura Klahre, founder of Blossom Meadow, Sophia learned of an important first step in determining a nontoxic approach with handling Sophia's underground wasps: Identify the species at WhatsThatBug.com.
Interested in seeing one way honey is collected from bee hives? Click on the video below to watch.
Tour Blossom Meadow
Click on the video below to see the diversity of plants that Laura Klahre has in her yard. It creates a "food smorgasbord" or "food buffet" for pollinators.
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