8/19/2017: Happy National Honeybee Day!

Bee plant, Bees, Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area, Toni Robinson Waterfront Trail

European honey bees (Apis mellifera) are important imported pollinators for citrus and many other crops. Commercial beekeepers transport their hives from place to place, including to the Toni Robinson Waterfront Trail, where the sign above cautions folks that these colonial bees will sting to  protect their hives.

August 19, 2017 is National Honey Bee Day! This day is meant to support commercial beekeepers and to encourage backyard beekeeping. To learn more about beekeeping, visit the Treasure Coast Beekeepers website, the Brevard Beekeepers website. or check out bee college offered by at the University of Florida Honey Bee Research and Education Lab.

You can encourage bees – European and native – to visit your yard with the appropriate native plants …

Sunshine mimosa (Mimosa strigilosa), shown above, makes a great turf grass replacement and is beloved by bees.

Nature preserves like the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area (ORCA) support European and native honey bee populations and can give you ideas about native plants for your yard that attract bees. Two coastal wetland plants that thrive in a variety of conditions are flowering now at ORCA.

Sea oxeye daisy (Borrichia frutescens) has been flowering since the spring and, like most plants in the aster family, Asteraceae, is quite attractive to bees.

Yellowtop (Flaveria linearis), an annual aster is beginning to flower in full force. You will find this plant growing on mosquito control dikes throughout Indian River County, along the backside of the dune at Sebastian Inlet State Park, and on the edges of coastal marshes …

Some plants that we would not wish to include in our yard also attract bees like poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans). Notice the conspicuously stuffed pollen basket (corbiculae) on the back legs (tarsi) of the European honey bee below. You will find this adaptation on European honey bees and other social bees that need to carry pollen back to a communal hive …