Bees play an necessary position in rising greens and flowers

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September is national honey month so let’s dive into the world of bees so you are prepared.

If you are lucky, bees are buzzing in your garden every day. For anyone who has planted a vegetable garden, make sure you attract bees to your yard.

Did you know that around 90 food plants are pollinated by insects, mostly bees? Thanks to bees, we can enjoy apples, citrus fruits, avocados, mangoes, plums, peaches, squashes, squashes, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and watermelons, to name a few.

If you add the crops used as fodder, a third of our food supply depends on bee-pollinated flowers.

In addition to their pollination services, bees are also associated with honey. Bees collect nectar from flowers and then process the nectar into honey. In addition to being delicious, honey offers many health benefits. You can find more information on this topic in our Bulletin Honey and it’s Uses at edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/aa154.

Florida bees known for pollination services

Another species of bee that is managed for their pollination services is the bumblebee. The Hummel offers both field and greenhouse pollination services.

More than 315 species of wild bees in Florida play a role in the pollination of crops, natural areas, and managed landscapes. These include mining bees, mason bees, sweat bees, leaf cutter bees, and carpenter bees. These bees are efficient pollinators and often pollinate most of our plants.

Bumblebees, dredge bees, and sweat bees make up the bulk of solitary bees in most parts of the state. Solitary bees offer many advantages over honey bees as pollinators, such as they fly faster, pollinate more plants, do not usually sting, work on cloudy days, become active earlier in the morning, and work later in the afternoon than honey bees.

In order to support the bees, we have to create nesting areas, avoid harmful pesticides and provide suitable nectar plants.

How to increase native bee populations

Here are some suggestions on how to increase your native bee populations.

Start by setting aside some undisturbed areas in your yard. Most bees prefer to nest in dry places and love a sunny location.

For ground-brooding bees, this means a piece of undisturbed soil in a sunny location. For wood or trunk nesting bees, this means stacks of bamboo pieces, branches, hollow reeds or nesting blocks made of untreated wood.

The second step is to reduce the use of harmful pesticides. The extensive use of pesticides not only on farmland but also in our landscapes has contributed to the loss of many bee colonies and other pollinators.

Natural herbicides and botanical insecticides can also harm bees. To protect the bees, all pesticides should be applied in the evening when the bees are in their hive or nest.

Next, feed your pollinators by planting the right nectar-rich plants. Some good bee plants are our native goldenrod, sunflowers, false golden aster, chrysopsis (golden aster), coreopsis, pityopsis (silk grass), rudbeckia (coneflower), old field aster, bee balm, marigold, daisy, peppermint, nasturtium, clover, sage and sweet lavender.

Ground and wood dwelling bees

Native bees can be divided into two main groups: soil and wood dwellers.

Ground-dwelling bees include bumblebee, excavator, sweat and pumpkin bees.

Bumblebees are hard workers who work faster than honey bees and can be outside in cooler temperatures. Bumblebees pollinate many of our most common vegetables such as tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, melons, blackberries, strawberries, and blueberries.

Pumpkin bees only visit pumpkin, pumpkin and pumpkin flowers. They are also early risers and visit all the pumpkin / squash / gourd flowers in the morning before the flowers close around noon.

All bees living underground prefer south-facing, dry sandbars with no vegetation, with sunny and dry being the most important characteristics.

Our leaf cutters and carpenter bees are among the wood dwellers.

Leafcutter bees have a predilection for legume flowers, but pollinate other crops such as carrots. They are most active at temperatures above 70 degrees. They are also very efficient pollinators, so much fewer leafcutter bees are needed to pollinate the flowers.

Carpenter bees are some of the largest bees and prefer to drill holes in softwoods like pine. You usually avoid wood that is painted or covered in bark. The entrance to their nests is a ½ inch diameter hole.

Carpenter bees pollinate various crops such as passion fruit, blackberry, corn, pepper and runner beans.

Make a bee hotel

For those who like to do handicrafts (like on a nice rainy day) Instructions for building a bee hotel can be found at gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu. Look for “Pollinator Hotels”.

A pollinator hotel could easily be built this weekend to provide shelter for the leaf cutter and carpenter bees.

For the ground-dwelling bees, leave some areas near your flowers bare or with just a light layer of mulch to allow them to create their tunnels.

Bees are fun to watch, and if you grow tomatoes, peppers, or any other vegetable, now that our gardening season has begun, you’ll want to attract them to your garden.

Support local journalism: Offers for new subscribers can be found at floridatoday.com/subscribe.

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