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How do you spread the word about solitary bees?

 
Dave Hunter
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I'm trying to increase the use of solitary bees in the backyard. Gardeners think there are only 5 bees in the world: honey bees, bumble bees, all hornets, all wasps, and everything else. There are 4,000 species of everything else just in North America.

How do we help spread the word that there are more bees out there? Many (solitary) are gentle and don't sting. This forum is a good start, but I'm looking for suggestions on accellerating the knowledge. With the honey bees continuing to decline, native bees are a "Plan Bee" that we need to push.
 
Jordan Lowery
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Just talk about them. I have people sitting on the edge of their seat when I explain the different Sizes, shapes and most interestingly color. Everyone gets a little excited when you tell them there are shiny metallic blue bees.
 
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree
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I found this downloadable pdf about Bee Basics - an introduction to our native bees was amazing.

I don't live in the US, but it was a beautiful introduction to all the different types of bees, even if the specific ones I have here in Portugal aren't exactly the same. I'd love to have a whole load of these booklets printed out to give to people.
 
tel jetson
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maybe table at farmers markets. bring a jug of tasty cold water to lure folks in to talk to you.
 
Dave Hunter
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Jordan, I find the exact same thing. People are typically on the edge of their seats when I'm talking about these gentle bees. Although one on one is best, I'm only one mouth in one location and am attempting to reach most gardeners in the world.

I'm headed down the "social media" path right now. Tweeting more often, trying to increase Facebook presence, etc. My want is to get more action rather than words of sympathy.

Burra, I have that very .pdf attatched to my website. I agree, it was well done. In discussion with Steve Buchman (co-author) he was pleased with the outcome. It's a great tool and received a lot of tweets when it came out.

Tel, a glass of wine does the same thing.

The message that we need to spread is that the honey bees need help. Sure, the scientists are working on solutions, but the ones that I collaborate with feel that we'll be seeing less in the orchards as the years progress. Thus, increasing our awareness and management of native bees is imparative to buffer the future need.
 
tel jetson
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Dave Hunter wrote:
Tel, a glass of wine does the same thing.


the market manager here in town was already looking a little suspiciously at the growler I used for a water bottle...
 
Shawn Harper
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Jordan Lowery wrote:Just talk about them. I have people sitting on the edge of their seat when I explain the different Sizes, shapes and most interestingly color. Everyone gets a little excited when you tell them there are shiny metallic blue bees.


Ok so I've got a fetish for the color blue... I want more info please
 
tel jetson
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Dave Hunter wrote:The message that we need to spread is that the honey bees need help. Sure, the scientists are working on solutions, but the ones that I collaborate with feel that we'll be seeing less in the orchards as the years progress. Thus, increasing our awareness and management of native bees is imparative to buffer the future need.


if you're trying to get solitary bees back in orchards, focusing the message for orchardists could be the ticket. I don't see honey bee pollination getting any cheaper in the immediate future, so pitch it in economic terms instead of hippie love-the-planet talk. figure out the bare minimum an orchardist would need to do to keep a healthy solitary bee population.

what easy habitat, nectar, and pollen plants can they include in an orchard that won't interfere with their operation?
when do they need to stay out so they don't interrupt the bees?
is there a way for spray-happy conventional orchardists to move bees in and out of the orchard to protect them from biocides?
how can ground-nesting pollinators be accommodated in an orchard?

orchardists have gotten away with bad habits for too long because migratory beekeeping filled in the huge holes they punched in their ecosystems. giving them some alternatives without demanding that they change their entire world view to ours seems likely to succeed.
 
John Polk
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A sad fact about commercial orchards is that the 'wisdom' teaches the orchardists to remove every living thing except the fruit/nut tree. By doing so, they have totally eliminated the natural habitat of the many bees and other pollinators.

It is often bare dirt (I can't call it soil, as it has no life) between the trees. As if that wasn't bad enough, it is constantly sprayed with herbicides and pesticides to keep it barren. What can live in such an environment?
 
Dave Hunter
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Tel, John,

You both are preaching to the choir. Tel, I appreciate your insight as it is similar to where I have to be in about 3 years.

Right now I'm trying to help as many people as possible learn that not all bees sting. Don't just read these words but DO and TRY something. Be proactive.

Next step is to help these people be successful. Raise too many bees and share them with friends/neighbors/family. Help them be successful as well.

Next is to begin an educational shift with the commercial orchards. Start with the organics first.
- Bare dirt is there for a reason, but I don't understand it. Replace it with beds of pollen rich flowers that can be mowed when under bloomtime.
- Spraying fungicide ~ spraying pesticides... each have their place but I would like to believe their are options.
- Training the farmer that these bees have to live for next year... you don't rent them, you own them. It's a different thing. Money might talk.

Lastly would be to shift excess gardener bees to orchards that get it. ...and have changed their practices. Kind of a reward? Sure, it would be great if everyone in the world grew their own food, but that won't change until I'm worm food myself.

So... I'm in phase 1 right now. Helping create awareness. Paul's doing a great job helping this go forward. Very much thankful.
 
Steven Feil
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Location: South Central Idaho
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I have heard about solitary bees before but I got most of my information here and from Dave's site.
 
Jordan Lowery
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Was out hiking at 10'000ft last fall ( late spring up there) and found some solitary bees boring holes into downed and almost petrified trees (thousands of years old deadwood) giant colonies of them possibly into the couple hundreds. They were solid black with a metallic tinge to them. Amazing to see they can live at such high elevations with brutal winters and 40ft of snow.

I'm shooting to get video this fall.
 
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