According to the Xerces Society, “Bees transfer pollen between flowers, enabling the incredible diversity of plants on our planet to flower and fruit. Pollinators are keystone species in essentially every ecosystem on earth, enabling the reproduction of over 85% of all flowering plants and 67% of agricultural crops. In addition to the well known honey bee (Apis mellifera), a species brought to the United States from Europe, there are more than 20,000 described species of bees globally, and around 3,600 species of bees native to the United States.
These wild bees are generally quite different than the domesticated honey bee – most of them live solitary lives, with a single female doing all of the work to build a nest, collect pollen and nectar, and lay eggs. Unlike the honey bee, which lives aboveground and can be managed in wooden hives, more than 2 out of 3 wild bees live underground in nests that can be hard to spot from the surface! Some dig down and lay their eggs several feet below ground, while others make nests near the soil surface or in hollowed out plant stems above ground. While bees are the most important pollinator, butterflies, moths, beetles, flies, wasps, and hummingbirds also contribute to pollination.
Research has shown significant declines in native pollinator population sizes and ranges globally. Up to 40% of pollinator species on earth are at risk of extinction in the coming years as a result of a variety of environmental stressors including habitat loss, exposure to pesticides, diseases and pathogens, and climate change.”
The HdG Green Team is dedicated to preserving both wild and domesticated bee populations.
- FLOWERING PLANTS, preferably native – (See our library for information on native plants) Pollinators rely on nectar and pollen from flowering plants to sustain themselves and feed their offspring.
- NESTING & OVERWINTERING SITES – Pollinators require places to nest and overwinter including bare ground, hollow stems, and other materials.
- HABITAT FREE FROM PESTICIDES – Pesticides harm pollinators directly and reduce the availability of flowering plants they rely on. Consider the University of Maryland Bay-wise program for integrated pest management to reduce pesticide use.
In June 2020, the City of Havre de Grace passed Resolution No. 2020- 15, authorizing the HdG Green Team to apply for Bee City USA designation on behalf of the City of Havre de Grace. In 2021, we completed our first full year as a Bee City Affiliate. Learn more about the Bee City program at https://beecityusa.org/
City of Havre de Grace Bee City 2021 Report – Coming Soon
Why be a Bee City?
Thinking globally and acting locally, Bee City USA brings communities together to sustain pollinators by increasing the abundance of native plants, providing nest sites, and reducing the use of pesticides. Affiliates of Bee City USA also work to inspire others to take steps to conserve pollinators through education and outreach.
In 2019, the US lost 40.7% of its honey bee hives, the most in 13 years of research.
To help support the endangered domesticated honey bee population, a critical pollinator, the HdG Green Team worked with the City of Havre de Grace to establish our apiary in 2019. The apiary is located behind the Seneca Community Garden on Seneca Avenue in the Todd Park area. This is truly a community project. The City of Havre de Grace Department of Public Works helped install the protective fencing, and in Spring 2019, second graders at Havre de Grace Elementary School painted the hive boxes and volunteers set up the hives in May. Volunteers, under the guidance of our project lead, help support and maintain the bees and hives, and in the fall we harvest any available honey.
Since honey bees travel to and from the hive, nearby community gardens and the Food Forest will benefit greatly from this frequent pollination process.
Community members are invited to stop by and watch the bees, or join any of our volunteer activities. These activities can be found on our Facebook page or by subscribing to our email distribution.
Humans have managed honey bees for about 8,500 years. The European honey bee was imported to the US as early as 1622 and spread ahead of European colonization. Honey bees are selected for their lack of aggression as well as honey production, although they will sting if provoked. Honey bees (except for the queen) can only sting once and then die. Male bees (drones) cannot sting at all. On the other hand, wasps and yellow jackets are more aggressive and can sting multiple times. Here is an identification guide to help you distinguish the friendly honey bee from other more aggressive species. (Photo credit: Wake County Beekeepers)