Bees buzz, make honey, and, while they do sometimes sting, pollinate crops. To promote the good health of these important furry friends, NDSU Graduate Student Pollinator Researcher Jasmine Cutter and Wildlife and Range Research Assistant Professor Benjamin Geaumont hosted their Trees for Bees event on Thursday, May 30th.
Cutter recently began her third summer of researching bees in Hettinger through the NDSU research extension center. Her research involves grazing and controlled fires and how they can benefit native flower production.
“We’ve created a series of events to try and get more people involved in our research and thinking about pollinators,” she said. “It’s an opportunity to get thinking about bees. Right now, there is a lot of concern about bee decline and this event gives tangible ways to help.”
Because of their important role in the ecosystem and agriculture, keeping honeybees and wild bees alive is incredibly important to local agriculture. Cutter said that as of 2017, Adams County was the 3rd highest honey producer in the state with over 2 million pounds of honey produced.
Bees are not only important for honey production, but also for farmers too.
“75 percent of the crops in the world require insect pollination to provide food,” Cutter explained. “Insect pollination can also improve crop yield. You can get more fruits and seeds in a given area.”
Bees are also beneficial for avid deer and pheasant hunters and bird watchers. Insects drive pollination in wild ecosystems, providing more nuts, seeds, and berries for wildlife.
At the Trees for Bees event, both Cutter and Geaumont explained to local homeowners how adding flowering shrubs and trees can benefit both wild bees and honeybees. People met at Geaumont’s house to see his own flowering trees and shrubs.
“If you are growing a hedge row for wind break, it shouldn’t be too hard to incorporate a couple of flowering trees,” she said.
Cutter explained that in general, bees thrive when there are an abundance of available flowers. Bees need to constantly pollinate for their own survival.
“In the early spring, there aren’t a whole lot of flowers out for honeybees and bumble bees. There just isn’t a whole lot to eat until the dandelions bloom,” said Cutter. “The crazy thing about bumblebees is the whole hive dies in the summer, so there is only one queen to start the hive all over again.”
According to Cutter, with bumblebees, it’s up to the one queen bee to start the next generation.
“If the queen doesn’t make it, we are losing 75-100 bumblebees per queen that can’t find food,” she said.
To help the bees succeed to the next generation, Cutter suggested that people let dandelions grow in their lawns, plant more flowering trees, and plant local flowers. Cutter gave out local flower seeds at the event so people could plant them in their gardens.
Cutter said to look out for the next bee event sometime in June to talk about pollinating flowers and garden tours. For more information, people can contact Jasmine Cutter at Jasmine.Cutter@ndsu.edu.