Urban Homesteading – It’s the Bees' Knees

Reader Contribution by Heidi Hunt
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There has been much press regarding the bee colony collapse disorder and its effects on agriculture. As a gardener, I also have been concerned about whether the loss of honeybees would have a direct effect on my garden production. A recent article, Successful Beekeeping with Your Own Honeybees, suggests that backyard gardeners might consider keeping a hive of bees to improve the pollination rates in their own yard and in neighboring gardens.

So, I was pleasantly surprised last week to discover a couple dozen bees noisily collecting on the flowering wild arugula that I let go to seed. I actually went to the garden to cut some zinnias for a new kitchen bouquet and had to lean over the arugula flowers to get to the zinnias. I was suddenly aware that my middle was hovering quite close to the buzzers, who seemed not at all concerned by my proximity.

As I stepped back to better view the whole scene, I discovered there were many honeybees and bumblebees on the zinnias as well as the arugula, plus a number of different kinds of butterflies. How exciting! The existence of these pollinators must be partially responsible for the abundance of cucumbers, tomatoes and green beans in my new garden this summer. I plan to start a flower garden in the backyard next spring and that surely will attract more bees, butterflies and other pollinators. 

Have you had an abundance or a dearth of pollinators in your gardens this season? You can share your experiences in the comments section below.

*It has been suggested the phrase, “it’s the bees’ knees,” popular in the 1920s, referred to the pollen collected on the midsection of bees legs, and pollen is a good thing for bees to collect.

Photo by Heidi Hunt