Spring ushers in new life and summer becomes its cradle. During this time each year nature hums with life. As the ground is tilled and the Spring showers arrive everything is gently nudged out of its slumber. Overnight the landscape is transformed into an array of rainbow colors. For an avid gardener such as myself, it is the most beautiful time of the year. I spend a significant part of my day working in my garden during spring and summer. As I get busy planting and pruning so do the bees with pollinating and honey making. We cross paths several times each day and work alongside each other. Up until recently I had mostly associated bees to honey. But last summer I became acutely aware of the critical role they play as crop pollinators. For example, bumblebees pollinate the tomato flower by self pollination through a process called “buzz pollination” while the honeybees pollinate the cucumber vine by cross pollination. Any changes in the pollination pattern can wreak havoc on a crop, which is exactly what happened to my vegetable garden. Both the honeybee and the bumblebee were completely smitten by the Torenia flowers and a solitary Catmint I planted last year. Even though they had a myriad of flowers to visit each day, they loyally frolicked to and spent most of their day at these two flowerbeds. All summer I waited patiently for them to have a change of heart and visit the vegetable patch but alas, homegrown vegetables were not written in my stars.
Both the Torenia and Catmint have endless blooms, and so the promise of a better food source seemed to be the obvious answer for the bee's lack of interest in the vegetable garden. But I can'tbe absolutely sure that it was the only reason. Nonetheless, a poor harvest prompted me to look at bees with a whole new perspective. The January issue features the honeybee - the tiny insect that is credited for the pollination of one-third of all crops. Crops such as blackberries, broccoli, cucumbers, squash, apples, almonds, strawberries and many more. For those of us in the Northern hemisphere the talk of Spring in the dead of winter must seem strange. The reason for launching this issue with the focus on Spring now is because in an effort to plan for and create a pollinator-friendly garden in the Spring, it is important to learn about and promote bee conservation now.