As you start planning this year’s garden, the Boise State Bee Team encourages you to think about the pollinators that you want to attract to that garden.
“One out of every three bites of food we eat exists because of honey bees,” said Melinda Stafford, BSU Bee Team adviser and active beekeeper. “They are a part of the ecosystem, like any other living creature, and a lack of their existence would certainly affect other living creatures.”
The pollination process aids in the production of vegetables, berries, almonds and several other popular crops in the United States; therefore, it has become increasingly important to protect the bee population.
“I have always been interested in agriculture, which is how I became fascinated with bees,” said Jamie Lynch, a BSU senior. “Some crops can be up to 80 percent dependent on bee pollination, so the importance of saving these insects is crucial.”
The decrease in bee populations has been a popular issue in recent years, sparking controversy over causes and potential remedies.
“There are a lot of different reasons (for the decrease in bee populations),” said Beatriz Ayala, Bee Team president. “A lot of people think it has to do with pesticides. Others think it’s the environment or pollution that bees are not accustomed to.”
Because of the obvious harm many pesticides cause, Stafford and her team encourage gardeners to look at the chemicals used in their home gardens to potentially counteract the bee decrease.
“Avoid using pesticides. Get used to weeds being a natural part of the environment,” Stafford said. “Pull them up by hand. Also, know what pesticides you are using and how they may affect bees.”
Using more natural products and working by hand will help the pollinators in your garden as well as pollinators throughout the Boise area.
“I find it important to have these natural pollinators since we’re in an urban setting,” Ayala said. “In general, they’re just a really important part of the ecosystem and the environment.”
In addition to your regular gardening plan, the Bee Team suggests also adding more flowers and plants that will bloom closer to the end of summer, allowing bees to accumulate honey for the winter months.
“In our area, asters, salvia, mint, thyme, Russian sage and lavender are good options,” Stafford said. “Don’t forget some weeds provide great sources of pollen and nectar to bees.”
The Boise State Bee Team is currently focusing on educating its members through the Treasure Valley Beekeepers Club, TVBC, in order to prepare for the coming harvest months.
“The TVBC members serve a vital role to the Bee Team through their mentorship,” Stafford said. “Many of them attend the Bee Team’s hive inspections to help guide good practices, provide tips and help the new students feel comfortable. They have been invaluable.”
Members of the BSU Bee Team agree.
“TVBC veteran beekeepers serve as our mentors, so we work closely with them,” Ayala said. “They taught us everything we know. We’re bridging that gap between young people and veteran beekeepers.”
Senior members of the Bee Team are working on a capstone project that more closely connects veteran beekeepers in the Boise community to the students running the hives on campus.
Jade Donnelly is a junior at Boise State University studying journalism and media studies.