Bee smart: protect the pollinators

Nova Scotia Beekeepers’ Association urging residents to think of the future

Ashley Thompson
Published on June 30, 2014

The provincial organization concerned with the safekeeping of pollinators has a request some Nova Scotians may embrace with open arms.

They’re asking residents to cut back on mowing the grass for the sake of the pollinators.

“Today we have the impression that a short cut, manicured lawn is the best thing that we can do,” said Joe Goetz, president of the Nova Scotia Beekeepers’ Association.

“Well, it might look nice but if we change our perception that manicured lawn is a green desert and has virtually no nutritional value for any pollinators at all.”

Bees have a bad rap with some people due to their natural line of defense, but living in an environment with no pollinators would really sting.

“It comes down to a simple question: do you like to eat?”

Goetz, owner of Scotian Bee Honey in Windsor Forks, said about one third of the food humans eat or feed to livestock is affected by such pollinators as bees, bats, hummingbirds and certain species of flies and beetles.

“Don’t ever spray flowers that are blooming with any kind of pesticide because you could be affecting the bee population and other beneficial insects,” he added.

The beekeeping association issued a press release outlining some cost-effective ways government bodies, businesses and homeowners can do their part to protect pollinators.

“One hundred years ago, lawns, graveyards and rifle ranges were covered with wild flowers and were mowed by sheep and cows. Today, at significant cost in labour, fuel and equipment maintenance, these spaces look like golf greens,” the press release reads.

“Financial costs could be lowered or eliminated by reducing the amount of grass cut. In the case of some venues such as rifle ranges and ditches, income could be generated by allowing farmers to turn green growth into hay.”

There are other ways to protect pollinators: plant plenty of flowers, refrain from using pesticides and choose wildflower sod.

Goetz said a good way to measure the presence of pollinators in an environment is to place a little honey outside and see how many insects “come to the party.”

In this case, Goetz said it’s one of those ‘the more the merrier’ kind of shindigs.

“You should see 10 to 30 different kinds of insects come to that honey to feed on it.”