Backyard beekeeping of honeybees is a great way to increase the number of pollinators in your garden, learn about how pollination works and, of course, the hives provide you with your own source of local honey. One thing that is not commonly discussed is that honeybees are not native to North America. While honeybees are very beneficial, there are also many species of native bees that could use help too. Today we are going to talk a bit about native bees and why its important to create habitat for native pollinators, especially if you're a backyard honeybee keeper.
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Backyard beekeeping of honeybees is a great way to increase the number of pollinators in your garden, learn about how pollination works and, of course, the hives provide you with your own source of local honey. One thing that is not commonly discussed is that honeybees are not native to North America. While honeybees are very beneficial, there are around 3,600 different species of native bees that could use help too.
Originating from Europe and Asia, the honeybee is not native to North America.
Honeybees are not able to pollinate all flowers. For example, honeybees do not pollinate tomatoes because they cannot get the pollen from the flowers and because the flowers do not produce nectar. Many native bees, however, know the trick to extracting tomato pollen and are, therefore, valuable pollinators.
Honeybees live in large colonies and are heavy feeders. If you introduce them into your garden or farm, they'll compete for resources with the native bee populations. If the resources are limited, the honeybees could end up pushing out your native bees, so it's important to add additional pollinator habitat if you're keeping honeybees in your backyard.
Below: Ground nesting bee or a "Tickle bee"
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More about our Guest Expert:
Mace Vaughan serves as The Xerces Society’s Pollinator Conservation Program Co-Director and also as a partner biologist and Pollinator Conservation Specialist with the USDA NRCS West National Technology Support Center in Portland, Oregon. Mace has led Xerces’ Pollinator Conservation Program since 2003. During his tenure at the Xerces Society, the pollinator program has grown from a small pilot project on California farms to a national, multi-million dollar program, implementing pollinator conservation projects across the US. Helping to oversee a team of twenty-four pollinator conservation specialists and several consultants across the U.S., Mace now helps to manage the largest pollinator conservation team in the country.
Mace has written numerous articles on the conservation of beneficial insects, and is co-author of several books, including Attracting Native Pollinators: Protecting North America’s Bees and Butterflies and Farming with Native Beneficial Insects. He was a lecturer on honey bee biology and beekeeping at Cornell University, from which he holds Degrees in Entomology, Natural Resource Management, and Teaching.
About the Host:
Hello, I’m Hilary Dahl. Outside of this podcast, my job is to help beginning and experienced growers create beautiful and productive gardens. I have the unique experience of working in on a wide range of projects, from small backyard garden plots to multi-acre vegetable farms. I also work in my own garden every day when I get home. This podcast is an opportunity to discuss seasonal garden topics and share the the joy of growing your own food.