"THE HAPPINESS OF THE BEE AND THE DOLPHIN IS TO EXIST. FOR MAN IT IS TO KNOW THAT AND WONDER"
I'm John Dusek. I am a student at Oregon State University doing a project to help home gardeners identify cultivated and native flowering plants that are beneficial to honey bees. Many species of common garden flowers benefit honey bees and a host of other pollinators. Native plants are abundant but often viewed negatively as popular trends propel homeowners to maintain turf at the expense of native plant species. The purpose of this site to provide a resource for home gardeners to consult when looking for plants that are attractive to honey bees. ANYONE CAN HAVE A PART IN INSURING A HEALTHY, PRODUCTIVE HONEY BEE POPULATION, JUST BY PLANTING A SINGLE PLANT. The smallest acts of environmental stewardship are amplified by nature and have a positive impact on natural systems and the benefits they provide to humans. It is speculated by science that the inability to efficiently access forage, combined with habitat loss and rampant pesticide use is contributing to the world wide decline in honey bee populations. My area of interest is environmental damage caused by mankinds relentless drive to acquire resources, ecological stress created by our normal interactions with nature in the places where we work and live, and the knowledge and tools provided by horticultural science to create a balance between the needs of humans and the health of natural systems. Earths current rate of extinction is 1000 times faster than natures design driven primarily by habitat loss. In the last 50 years the earths vertebrate population has fallen by 52%. In 2016 the United Nations reported that 40% of invertebrate pollinators FACE EXTINCTION, driven by the forces of global climate change, habitat loss and fragmentation, pesticides, parasites and disease. 75% of the worlds food crops depend on pollination from at least one species of pollinator. The diverse challenges facing pollinators combined with the alarming rate of biodiversity loss has lead many in the scientific community to believe we have entered the sixth period of mass extinction. Despite overwhelming evidence, many deny environmental issues exist.
The story begins.......
Back in the beginning I had just finished greenhouse management school. Together with my business partner and wife Jennifer we developed a small greenhouse /garden center operation in St. Charles, Michigan. On a particularly busy spring day we ran out of boxes for customers to carry their plants home in. Just on the verge of panic, I heard a women's voice say "do you need boxes?" "Desperately" I said to the stranger. About 30 minutes later a truck pulled up to the garden center and started unloading boxes! They were the perfect size and the friendly lady said to call if we needed more. I said thanks but had to ask " why do all of the boxes say PURE HONEY on them?" She said "we are beekeepers, our jars come in these boxes". Later in the season I became curious, bees were pretty cool... I wonder if they would show me their operation? They were happy to give me a tour. When I was there I noticed a purple flower that had so many bees on it that it was bent over. I asked what was so special about that flower. They told me it was called "Anise Hyssop" it was a honey flower! Honey flower? What do you mean? " The bees are attracted to it because it has great nectar, and is easy for them to get to. It blooms all summer, and is helpful to the bees because they don't spend a lot of energy to get the nectar. " Why don't you have a thousand of them?" I asked. They told me that it was hard to germinate and took awhile to grow. They wished they had more but they were busy beekeeping and didn't have much time to produce flowers. Being trained in greenhouse production I instantly saw the beginning of a great friendship. I realized that there must be many plants that were useful to bees. We began to study and record plants in our operation that bees favored. The beekeepers brought bees, answered 1000's of questions, and introduced us to some of the leading researchers on honeybees in our state. They became friends and mentors. As time went on, beekeepers across the USA faced several severe problems that became national news. Researchers felt that in part, a solution could involve restoring some of the bees habitat lost to farming, housing and development. Fully on board, and armed with a list of "honey plants" that were commercially produced in a greenhouse, we began talking to beekeeper groups, garden groups, civic and social organizations. We talked on college campuses,at trade shows, bars, restaurants, schools, even parking lots... anywhere people wanted to hear about the benefits that nectar producing plants would bring to honeybees. We became convinced that one of the key players in the health of any local bee population were the people who live there. Still to this day people ask us what flowers are good for the bees. Still to this day, we talk to anyone who asks, and still to this day Terry and Mary Klein, the beekeepers who sparked our interest, are still offering knowledge and support. They are the truest of friends.
Please browse this site to learn how you can help our local honeybee population by planting your own HONEY PLANTS!
Terry and Mary Klein, friends, mentors and commercial beekeepers in St. Charles, Michigan.