Important Bees-Ness

Why one local expert is abuzz with concern

Across much of America, we’re losing our honeybees. It is estimated that we’ve lost more than one-quarter of our 2.4 billion bee colonies. (The phenomenon even has gotten an official name: Colony Collapse Disorder.) Why? Scientists theorize various reasons, from the Varroa mite, mild winters, and modified crops to the Israeli acute paralysis virus.

So, how do Westchester bees fare? We asked Evelyn Fetridge, resident bee expert at the Louis Calder Center Biological Field Station at Fordham University in Armonk. Fetridge studied and compared bee communities in Westchester County gardens to those in Black Rock Forest in Orange County and in New York City community gardens. And? “The bee diversity in Westchester gardens was intermediate between what was in Black Rock, which had the most species, to the fewest species found in New York City gardens,” reports Fetridge.

But, more important, according to Fetridge, Westchester has a thriving population of other bee species, which means that gardeners can depend on other bees to pollinate. She recommends that gardeners take a proactive approach next spring to attract bees of all types—and, hopefully, honeybees as well.

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What do bees—all bees—like? The same thing as we humans: color and pretty blooms. So, if you want to grow your garden, plant away. Plants most highly recommended to attract honeybees: echinacea, also called the Purple Cone Flower, rudbeckia, nepeta, liatris, and flowering herbs like thyme, oregano, and mint.

// Kristin Larson

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