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Rhonda Ferree's ILRiverHort

Rhonda Ferree's Horticulture Blog
Bee on purple cone flower

Bee-nificial Bees!


Beekeeping is an increasingly popular backyard hobby. It also fits the growing trend to protect pollinators, which are so important to our food supply.

There are many different types of bees. Bumble bees are the only truly social bees native to the United States. They are important pollinators and according to a University of Minnesota entomology website, are used commercially to pollinate crops such as tomato.

Honey bees are also important pollinators and the source of honey and beeswax. These social bees are an introduced European species and not native here.

Most of the other types of bees are solitary insects that live and work independently instead of in colonies. These include carpenter bees, mining bees, leafcutter and mason bees, to name a few.

Want to learn more about bees and beekeeping?

Beekeeping for the Backyard Gardener is part of the University of Illinois Extension's Four Seasons Gardening program. On February 17 at 1:30 or February 19 at 6:30 pm Jennifer Fishburn, Horticulture Educator, will discuss basics of starting a backyard colony, understanding honeybees and hive management. The program is available for free home viewing via the internet or at Extension offices across Illinois. Contact your local Extension office at www.extension.illinois.edu for more information.

The Heart of Illinois Beekeepers Association is offering a beginning beekeeping class on February 21 from 9 am to 4 pm at the United Presbyterian Church in Peoria. For a $50 nonmember fee you'll learn from experienced beekeepers, videos, written materials and hands on demonstrations. More information is available at http://hoibees.org/.

If you prefer to learn from others consider joining a local bee club, then Master Gardener and longtime beekeeper Glenn Fanter's bee clubis for you. Meetings begin again in the spring and are open to the public For more information contact University of Illinois Extension 309-543-3308309-543-3308.

If you like to eat honey, May Berenbaum's book Honey, I'm Homemade is a must have. This honey recipe book also details the fascinating history of honey. Dr. Berenbaum is a well-known University of Illinois entomologist and bee researcher. She was awarded a National Medal of Science by President Barack Obama in October 2014.



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