One of the most amazing activities in a honeybee’s lifetime is rarely seen by humans and occurs by the workings of numerous architect-minded, honeycomb-building, wax-producing bees.
Building comb is a multi-skill effort, involving bees strung from comb to comb like a tapestry of lacework, hanging together leg to leg in sheets between the frames to build new comb in a process called “festooning.” While festooning, bees measure the open space, create blueprints for future comb, act as self-made scaffolding, promoting stretching of the abdomen which aids in wax production.
Honey is the only food made by an insect that is eaten both by humans and the insect itself. Bears, badgers and other animals also eat honey and have long been raiding the winter stores of their winged friends to harvest this tasty treat.
Honey is a very stable food that naturally resists molds, fungi and other bacteria, allowing it to last for years without refrigeration. It is well known that honey is made by a colony of honey bees living in a nest or in a hive if kept by a beekeeper.
A typical bee hive will house about 60,000 bees, most of them workers, industriously making honey and the honeycombs in which the honey is stored. That’s a lot of honey bees, working very hard to produce honey for the colony. It takes about 556 foraging bees to visit 2 million flowers, just to make a pound of honey!
Hummingbirds are some of the most vibrant and aerobatic creatures witnessed here in the Adirondacks. They are known as hummingbirds because of the humming sound created by their beating wings, which flap at high frequencies audible to humans. They hover in mid-air at wing-flapping rates that vary from around 12 beats per second to an excess of 80 beats per second, the smaller the species the faster the wing flapping.
There are more than 300 species of hummingbirds found exclusively in the Americas from Alaska to Chile and are classified as the smallest bird species. With most of this species measuring 3–5 inches in length and weighing about the same as a penny or .09 oz. The runt of these species is the bee hummingbird that is approximately 2 inches long and weighs less than .07 oz.
Pollinators are animals and insects that carry pollen from one plant to another. Pollinators are responsible for much of our food and flowers and are responsible for the reproduction of 1 out of every 3 bites of food we eat. In order to understand pollinators, we need to know a little bit about plants.
Just like animals, flowering plants need to mate. But how can an organism spread its genes without being able to meet up with others of its species and this is where pollinators come in. Pollinators are animals of all types that visit flowers and take away their pollen. Pollen is a sex cell of plants and is essential for reproduction. As pollinators move from flower to flower, they deposit the collected pollen, basically allowing the plants to mate.
Many flowers attract insects and animals with the promise of a sugary liquid called nectar. Their smell and bright petals advertise fresh nectar to passing insects and other flying pollinators like hummingbirds. In return for the gift of nectar, the flower deposits pollen on whatever comes to visit. Pollen is like the sperm of plants – and is the way that plants spread their genes and mate with other plants in the same species.
Pollinators come in all shapes and sizes and include species of insects, birds, and mammals.
The Adirondack Pollinator Project (APP) is once again celebrating National Pollinator Week, June 22-28, to highlight the critical importance of pollinators to biodiversity, food availability, and the economy. Pollinators help produce approximately 1/3 of the food we eat. In New York State alone, bees and other pollinators provide some $350 million in pollination services each year. This year’s programs are being delivered digitally.
The Adirondack Pollinator Project is a project of AdkAction in partnership with The Wild Center, The Lake Placid Land Conservancy, and Paul Smith’s College, with the mission of inspiring individual and collective action to help pollinators thrive. Creative digital program offerings throughout National Pollinator Week will allow people of all ages to learn about pollinators, gardening with native plants, and more.
Pollinators are vital to creating and maintaining the habitats and ecosystems many animals rely on for food and shelter.
Over half of the diets of fats and oils come from crops pollinated worldwide by pollinators alone and facilitate the reproduction in 90 percent of the world’s flowering plants. Pollinators are needed in the production of over 130 different human food crops and are responsible for 1 out of every 3 bites of food we eat and beverages we drink.
A world without pollinators would be devastating. As nature lovers and educators, the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge (in Wilmington) and SkyLyfeADK are collaborating to implement an extensive pollinator project named Operation Pollinator Rescue.
When it comes to pollination it seems that honey bees are give the spotlight, but they’re not the only bees that shine for their ability to pollinate. Bumblebees have their own unique abilities that honey bees don’t.
Bumblebees are long tongued bees with tongues 15mm – 20mm long and are capable of pollinating tuberous flowers with deep corollas such as cucumber, tomatoes, melons, squash, thistle, honeysuckle among many others.
In contrast, honey bees are short tongued bees with tongues 5mm – 8mm long and pollinate flowers that are flatter and shallow such as, coneflowers, daisies, apples, cherries, raspberries, cranberries along with a variety of others.
I am often asked why I decided to become a beekeeper. My journey into beekeeping came from my deep concern for the fate of honeybees (apis mellifera), which have been dying out in droves. There are very few things that can prepare you for the experiences you will discover with the amazing creatures we call honey bees.
Beekeeping is like teaching or practicing law or medicine, and so many other things. Until you’ve actually done it and gotten some experience under your belt, all the reading and classroom time in the world doesn’t truly prepare you for the real thing. I love beekeeping but there are plenty of times the work is heavy, hot, tiring, and extremely sticky. It’s vital you do your homework and make sure you want to be a beekeeper before investing in hives, clothing, tools and other equipment – all of which can quickly run into the hundreds of dollars. So what’s the best way to prepare for this rewarding and eco-friendly hobby and be sure it’s right for you? The best preparation you can undertake is to find other local beekeepers and ask lots of questions.
Lupine is one of the most spectacular flowers of early summer, painting long stretches of roadside with shades of purple and blue. Thanks to this tall, showy plant, even a stop-and-go drive to Boston’s Logan Airport has its moments of beauty (as I recently had occasion to observe). Full sun and dry, sandy soil are just right for lupine.
Although many people don’t know it, the lupine we typically see in the Northeast is “not from around here.” It’s a non-native plant that was imported to eastern gardens from parts of the western U.S. and escaped cultivation. Our native lupine is similar, but it is seen far less often and is, unfortunately, in regional decline. » Continue Reading.
Here in the Adirondacks the stars are our night light, the crickets and bull frogs our bedtime lullaby.
This is a place where the simple things are seen and not overlooked. Mountain life affords us an advantage, serene surroundings to ponder about the little things and the opportunity to witness nature at work up close and personal. » Continue Reading.
AdkAction’s Adirondack Pollinator Project is set to hold a Pollinator Symposium on June 5 at Tannery Pond Community Center, 228 Main Street in North Creek.
The Symposium will be aimed at equipping farmers, groundskeepers, public park managers, gardeners, and local government agencies with the knowledge to help preserve and build crucial pollinator populations in the Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.
If your community was recently treated to a bit of Adirondack snow, planning your summer garden is just the thing to get the focus back on spring. It’s interesting to hear the “ole timers” refer to late seasonal snow as “poor man’s fertilizer.”
Even if that spring snow helps add nutrients to my garden soil, I want all my seasons to have an end. So while I wait, I plan my garden. » Continue Reading.
AdkAction’s Adirondack Pollinator Project is set to hold a Pollinator Symposium June 5 at Tannery Pond Community Center in North Creek, on Wednesday, June 5th, from 10 am to 4 pm.
The Pollinator Symposium will be aimed at equipping farmers, groundskeepers, public park managers, gardeners, and local government agencies with the knowledge to help preserve and build pollinator populations in the Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.
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