Many news outlets in the last couple of years have been reporting that bee populations have been under a great deal of stress with numbers declining drastically. Honeybees, which are actually not native to North America and live in colonies of up to 50,000+ are lead by a single queen bee and spend their entire lifetime collecting pollen. Since many US crops depend on their seasonal pollination services, their travels are far and wide as they must travel through all regions in the United States pollinating a variety of crops such as apples, pears, peaches, blueberries, cranberries and more, the decline is very detrimental to food sources.
It appears in recent years a variety of issues have caused their numbers to seriously decline by more than 50 percent. Several years ago “colony collapse disorder” was noted wiping out entire honeybee hives almost overnight due to pests, diseases, pesticides, and climate change.
New research has garnered that native bees, of which there are thousands of species are much hardier than honeybees and appear to have a couple of advantages. First, they are solitary workers and second, they don’t live in hives so they are a valuable pollinator to take over where honeybees are falling short.
Mason bees (genus Osmia) are a type of native bee that’s quite common throughout most of the U.S. They are usually a little smaller than a honeybee. They get their name from their habit of nest-building, which is to seal off the cells where they lay their eggs, with a mortar-like application of mud. Not a great deal is commonly known about these Mason bees so word must get out to the general public and gardeners in particular are a natural target demographic for starting to educate the public.
One of NGC’s current President’s Projects is their Crown Bees BeeGAP program. NGC goals are shared by Crown Bees’ social vision to sustain the food supply and protect the environment by taking care of our bee pollinators. As part of that shared pollinator goal, NGC embraces Crown Bees’ BeeGAP (Gardeners Adding Pollinators) program. Under NGC BeeGAP, club members learn how to raise Mason bees and create bee-safe garden havens, and increase community awareness about these amazing pollinators.
Crown Bees offers NGC members support and benefits in appreciation for their BeeGAP participation. If you have questions or comments regarding this specific program, send questions or comments to the NGC liaison to Crown Bees, Bud Qualk, BeeGAP Chairman, at firstname.lastname@example.org or GCO BeeGAP & Backyard Habitat Chairman Sandi Terlop at email@example.com or (440) 652-6890.
Link to NGC’s Crown Bees Beegap page: http://www.gardenclub.org/projects/presidents-projects/crown-bees-beegap.aspx
To learn more about Mason and other types of native bees, visit www.crownbees.com or visit their newsletter here: http://crownbees.com/beemail?SID=d52bcf8a27e0790de0643fa6af1b91f1