National Garden Clubs | BeeGAP: The Mason Bee Project

BeeGAP: The Mason Bee Project

A letter from Linda Nelson

As I began my term as President of National Garden Clubs, one of the things I focused on in my installation speech was our Conservation Pledge. It states: "I pledge to protect and conserve the natural resources of the planet earth and promise to promote education so we may become better caretakers of our air, water, forest, land, and wildlife." One way we can do that is through partnering with other organizations that are committed, like we are, to preserving, protecting and nurturing our natural resources for the betterment of all.

We are actively engaged in one such partnership with Crown Bees to learn more about Mason Bees and how we can encourage them in our gardens. They are non-aggressive and excellent pollinators, and through Crown's BeeGAP program, we can participate in the growth of this important resource.

BeeGAP stands for: "Bee Gardener Adding Pollinators." It describes a life cycle system that encourages gardeners to change their yards into bee havens and a garden oasis. The goal is for backyard gardeners to nurture bees that can then be sold through a buy-back program and provided to farmers for commercial use.

At present, the majority of commercial farmers rely on honey bees for pollination due to the strength and depth of the honey bee industry. However, as many of us know, the honey bee population has been experiencing stress and loss due to various environmental issues.

Many farmers don't yet realize the value of the solitary mason bee or the benefits of being a mason bee keeper. Mason bees are efficient pollinators. In some cases it takes as little as 100 mason bees to produce the same amount of fruit or vegetables as 560 honey bees.

On the other side of the equation, many gardeners don't realize the power of their backyards yet. Without knowing it, many gardeners raise hundreds of these bees without realizing their value to commercial farmers nearby. They can help pollinate local orchards!

Currently, the honey bee existence is facing continual losses. We either watch this continue and do nothing about this, or we look for and provide alternative solutions. It's up to us. One of the solutions is that we can provide safe homes for mason bees, and other solitary bees to help pollinate our crops.

BeeGAP is an alternate solution with a long-term vision to helping our crops achieve pollination. Our role, today, is vital, and I am proud to sponsor this important initiative as a Presidential Project.

For more information, visit the Crown Bees website at www.crownbees.com
Or, contact our Crown Bees liaison: Debbie Skow