Bee a Helper

We care, and we talk, and we hope.

And, one day …

People everywhere begin to ACT.

Such is the case in Minnesota, where the fate of bees is finding its way into the hearts and actions of concerned citizens.


Photo by Bob Peterson via Wikimedia Commons

Earlier this month, beekeepers Kristy Allen and Erin Rupp set out to mobilize a public meeting. Kristy and Erin are the founders of Beez Kneez, a Minneapolis bicycle honey-delivery and bee-education group, and they were among many area apiarists who lost hives due to fungicide last fall. The chemical cause was identified by University of Minnesota bee researcher Marla Spivak.

It was time to act.

The gals sent out invitations via social media—come one, come all—to attend a meeting that would address ways to help bolster the bees.

Nearly 150 people showed up on that frigid northern night, more than twice what the donated room at a local restaurant could hold.

“I was astonished,” said Representative Jean Wagenius, who came to talk legislation. “Something is going on.”

And that “something” is catching.

In 2013, Minnesota passed a bill directing its agriculture department to come up with new guidance for farmers on preserving pollinator habitat.

“And putting the needs of pollinators in every proposal is now required for projects funded by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council, which will use about $100 million this year to protect or restore 52,000 acres of Minnesota forests, wetlands, and prairies,” reported the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Additional efforts in the state include the Environmental Trust Fund’s proposal to allocate $2.25 million for 10 projects related to pollinators as well as further research, a new Bee Discovery Center at the Landscape Arboretum, and a prairie butterfly breeding program at the Minnesota Zoo.

“It wasn’t until people understood the stark relationship to the food supply and the relationship to pesticides that the wave crested,” said Bill Becker, executive director of the Outdoor Heritage Council. “People poured forth with a desire to do things.”

Here’s a great little video by Beez Kneez showing some of the good work they’re doing:

It’s never too late for resolutions, so the question is …

What can you do to help bees in the coming year?

  1. The plight of the bees will continue to gain force when people realize how much of our world’s food supply depends upon them. “The Beez Kneez” gals certainly are doing their part to educate others. It is heartbreaking that the chemical industry has known all along about the devastating effects their pesticides and fungicides have had on bees. They continue to be allowed to encourage farmers to use them. We must try and stop this or lose our precious bees. Europe has outlawed most of these chemicals ,why can’t we? Grass roots efforts like ” the Beez Kneez” are springing up all over and it is high time. My (then 4 year old) niece nearly died from eating bee pollen tainted with pesticides. The poisoning of pollinators must stop before it is too late. Thank you MaryJane for raising bees at your organic operation. The more we can offer safe organic plants for our bees the better our world will be.

  2. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I am new to learning the real plight of the honey bee and bees in general and what I have found out started with my subscription to MaryJane’s Farm. Currently, I am in the middle of the recommended book Bees in
    America:How the Honey Bee shaped a Nation. Fascinating! I had no idea. What is amazing to me is how the bees have survived all sorts of “insults” over the years from one problem or another. We must do better and raise consciousness. I do believe that supporting organic agriculture is one important way each person can help. The more demand for pesticide free products means fewer chemicals in food production. But that will not be enough, most likely. We have to include education to our children in science curriculums at schools. We need more teachers to have the opportunity to conduct organic school gardens that produce food for the cafeteria and community gardens in our inner cities. The Beez Kneez are key to helping communities make changes.

    How will I help bees this year? This is on my goal list for 2014. For starters, I am planning on getting a hive of Mason Bees for our little corner of the world. It will be a learning process to hopefully work up to Honey Bees, which are more complicated. My little organic yard of flowers and teeny, tiny garden are sort of a working laboratory for me to learn what it takes to make it organic and successful. Florida has tons of pests in the soil!! I am happy to report at this time my little winter garden of Buttercrunch lettuce, curly parsley and Red Leaf Kale is thriving in our colder days and giving me great salads and kale for hearty soups. February is the month that Spring arrives and daytime temps warm to the low 70s. The bees are already waking up and coming out on warm days for the flowering trees and shrubs. The learning lab is open!

  3. Congrats to you Winnie! You are doing it right ! I’m impressed about your bee adventure. We all need to grow organically and spread the word. Here at my little farmette it is all organic. I am quite allergic to bees or I would have hives for sure. A neighbor down the road does have hives and that makes me feel better. He is on the edge of swampy woodland that is never used for farming. A very diverse plant area, that is home to many wild ducks and geese as well. I grow many plants that bees love in my gardens, and my acres of deep woodland are brimming with ” pollinator food” as well. We can all chip in and help our little but important friends- the bees.

  4. Debra says:

    In 2011, a swarm appeared in my garden. Beekeeping friends helped me capture it, and a neighbor gave me a beehive. I became a backyard beekeeper, and had the colony for two and a half years. Last fall I harvested a gallon of honey. When I went out on New Year’s Day to “tell the bees”, my suspicions were confirmed. They were dead, probably from tracheal mites and severe cold. I am still sad, but as an organic beekeeper, I won’t use antibiotics to treat for mites. I plan to install new bees in the spring and learn more about natural methods to keep them healthy. My bees roamed the neighborhood, and surprisingly the neighbors liked them. I’ve had the opportunity to show bees to kids and talk about how gentle they are and how they pollinate food crops. And I love how they enliven my garden as they single-mindedly go about their work. A lot of bumblebees come to my flowers too. I always want to have flowers and bees where I live, and continue to learn about those fascinating bugs.

  5. Deborah McKissic says:

    I have found that growing different herbs will attract the bees…better then any other plant…I have a little 8 x 10 greenhouse and the area around it is planted in all the cracks of the stone foundation surrounding it…all different kinds…my favorite is the lime thyme..the color is so bright, almost neon..the bees adore thyme..rose petal thyme is another wonderful thyme that smells so nice and the flowers are beautiful..( is an herb farm that has over 50 varieties of thyme and many other herbs)and the bees love all of the thyme plants! I am pondering the idea of the mason bees…please let me know how yours work out, Winnie. I have plans for a blueberry patch and want to put some mason bees nearby…most of the herbs in my many gardens are bee attractors…all kinds..honeybees, bumblebees…make the bees happy..plant herbs! Take the thyme!

  6. Pingback: Bumble Bee Rumble | Raising Jane Journal

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