As unlikely as it might seem now, scientists assure that spring will actually someday arrive. And with its arrival will come the bees, those busy pollinators who help produce nearly one-third of the food we like to eat. According to Partners for Sustainable Pollination (PFSP) executive director Kathy Kellison, helping the bees themselves find enough food to eat is an increasing problem. “Bees need successive pollen and nectar-blooming plants throughout the year,” she explains, “so they go out and forage. They need a diversity of different plants because not all pollen is the same.”
To that end, the PFSP hosts a bee symposium on March 7 to educate area gardeners as well as farmers and ranchers about planting to feed the bees. “Pollinators are generalists,” she explains, “which means that they visit a lot of different flowers. They can fly two miles out from the colony, so they can cover a large area to access pollen, but over the years—because of urbanization, changing farm-management practices and agrichemicals—the amount of forage has decreased.”
North Bay hives have been largely untouched by the devastating phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder, says Kellison, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t need our help. Farmers who sign up with PFSP to provide forage will be given a sticker they can mount on their produce showing customers that they grew in a way that best benefits the bees. Funds collected through the program will literally be plowed back into the earth, helping beekeepers obtain larger and more diverse plots for their insects.
“It’s a way to get engaged,” Kellison says. “As a large-scale society, we’re very disconnected from our ecosystems and how they work. The public needs to understand that the bee decline can’t be managed by beekeepers, because the problems are larger than the beekeepers can control.”
The 2010 Bee Symposium is slated for Sunday, March 7, from 9am to 5pm. Subud Center, 234 Hutchins Ave., Sebastopol. $30. www.pfspbees.org.
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