Monday, March 15, 2010

Pollination in Kentucky

The state of Kentucky is in the process of turning mountain lands of Appalachia that have been used for surface mining of coal into habitat for honey bees and native pollinators. The Kentucky Senate passed a pollinator bill that acknowledges current efforts to make mine reclamation more environmentally responsible by allowing pollination sites to be established on reclaimed land. The efforts also involve planting of trees and undercanopy plants that are attractive to bees and other pollinators. Among the trees being used for reforestation are sourwood and American chestnut. Bees make famous honey from sourwood grown at elevation in the mountains. The American chestnut is being restored after being decimated by blight in the 1900s. Not only are the Kentucky efforts restoring the foliage in the mountains, they are starting a beekeeping industry to provide economic opportunities in Appalachia. Among those who have been working to change the mine reclamation practices is Tammy Horn, who helped establish the Coal Country Beeworks. The Beeworks is training beekeepers and placing honey bee hives on former mining sites. The sites employed a type of mining known as mountain top removal, a technique in which rock and coal are removed without drilling mine shafts. Tammy Horn, the author of Bees in America: How the Honey Bee Shaped a Nation, wrote a piece in today’s New York Times about the honey bee. To read an interesting description of the evolution of our honey bee, its worldwide spread by humans, and its use by beekeepers visit http://www.nytimes.com/info/bees/. I congratulate Tammy and all who are working to restore pollinator habitat in Appalachia. They are helping the local economy while building a “honey corridor” in the region.

Today’s photo shows a honey bee collecting nectar from forsythia, an old-time favorite shrub and one of the first colorful plants to bloom in the late winter. The honey bees learn to access the forsythia’s nectary from the sides of the blossom, reaching the nectar between the flower petals.
--Richard

3 comments:

  1. Just wanted to say I really like your blog - keep up the great work!

    Steve
    Common Cents
    http://www.commoncts.blogspot.com

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  2. If you want to restore pollinator habitat, please, don't use a non-native plant such as forsythia. It may be beneficial to honey bees but not to any of our native bees. I never see any of our native pollinators visiting its flowers, regardless of their bright yellow color.

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  3. Forsythia is an old-time favorite shrub. This photo was taken at an old, abandoned home place in Arkansas. As one of the first plants in bloom after a long, cold winter, I found it being foraged heavily by both honey bees and solitary native bees. In a dearth, bees will seek out any plant yielding nectar or pollen.

    Thank you for your interest. I agree it is advisable to make pollinator restorations with native species.
    --Richard

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