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Celebrate National Honeybees Awareness Day!

A bee obtains nectar while pollinating this flower.
A bee obtains nectar while pollinating this flower.
Photo: Rebecca Rivard-Darby

This Friday, August 20, will be National Honeybee Awareness Day.  Honeybees are vital to our agriculture system as they pollinate a great percentage of our crops. Without proper pollination, plants may fail to fruit or will produce inferior fruits that are disfigured and small.   Many foods and other crops we consume on a daily basis are heavily dependant on bees for pollination, such as: almonds, cotton, vanilla, cocoa, apples, strawberries, grapes, coffee, cranberries, lemons, peppers, carrots, broccoli and onions. It’s nearly impossible to go a day without eating something that a bee helped to pollinate.

Unfortunately, honeybees are increasingly threatened by Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) a mysterious phenomenom that kills entire hives at a time. Scientists have many theories to what is causing this, such as climate change, pesticides, cell phone radiation, or GMO crops, but to date it is still uncertain as to what the definitive cause of this horrible tragedy is or how to prevent it. The role of the honeybee in our agriculture system is too often and easily overlooked, and sadly CCD does not get nearly as much focus as other environmental issues, but is one that is equally important and could have some very serious impacts.

National Honeybee Awareness Day is a great way to show appreciation for this hard-working and important creature. Here are some great ways to celebrate the day:

Support your local beekeeper by purchasing some delicious local honey. Try searching at your local farmer’s market for local beekeepers, or try Swift Farm in Mansfield, Bird Song Farm in Hampton, or Red Bee Honey in Weston.  Local honey is delicious and can be substituted almost anywhere you’d put white sugar. Try it in your tea, mixed into some Greek yogurt, mixed into salad dressing, as a glaze for roasted vegetables, drizzled on pizza...really, the possibilities are endless. Honey can also be used as a substitute it for white sugar in most recipes - look here for directions.

Plant some bee-friendly flora in your backyard.  Some flowers to try are honeysuckle, bee balm, tansy, asters, sunflowers, dahlias, roses, and hollyhocks.  Bees also love many of the foods you can grow in your garden such as blackberries, cantaloupe, watermelon, cucumbers and squash.  For more information on creating a bee garden, check out this website.

Check out a movie! This Friday at 5:00pm, Real Art Ways in Hartford will be showing “Vanishing of the Bees, “ a feature-length documentary narrated by actress Ellen Page. Donations will be accepted and proceeds will benefit The Foundation for the Preservation of Honeybees. There will be a panel discussion following the film. This event is being co-sponsored by Whole Foods Market of Glastonbury.

Pick up a book and learn more about this humble creature. Some fantastic books to try are Honeybee: Lessons from an Accidental Beekeeper by C. Mariana Marchese, Plan Bee by Susan Brackney, and Fruitless Fall: The Collapse of the Honeybee and the Coming Agricultural Crisis by Rowan Jacobson.

For more information bees and CCD, try checking out these websites:

Vanishing Bees

The Honeybee Conservancy

Connecticut Beekeepers Association

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