The buzz is out that our most recent Chatham Park venture will bring a little sweetness to the life of our residents! Our new pollinator garden, now visible from the roof of the community’s Water Recovery Center (WRC), hosts eight beehives amidst a variety of plants, trees, and bee-friendly perennials. The plants were chosen using the North Carolina cooperative extension as a source by our team of landscape architects. Approximately 250,000 tiny tenants call this area home and will benefit the entire community with their pollination activities. As Chatham Park development continues, additional pollinator gardens will be installed as part of an overall system.
Honeybees are important to our environment in a variety of ways. Their pollination services help to provide food for both humans and animals such as fruits, berries, nuts, and seeds. They also are essential to gardens and trees, pollinating wildflowers and shrubs as well as ensuring beautiful landscaping and healthy, life-giving vegetation. Of course, we cannot forget the incredibly delicious and healthy honey that they produce for us to enjoy. Make sure to be on the lookout for local honey which is not only a wonderful preservative but can also be a remedy for allergies. Purchasing local honey is often the only reward that small time beekeepers get for their efforts, so we encourage you to support local businesses and stock up! You may even get the chance to sample honey from the Chatham Park bees as early as next spring.
The Chatham Park honeybees were raised in hives at Rocky River Bee Farm, a 15-acre farm near the Rocky River just south of Pittsboro. When their new accommodations were complete, Jody Moore with Rocky River Bees successfully moved the colonies to the WRC to begin their new life. Passionate about apiculture, Moore is a NC Master Beekeeper who promotes the advantages that bees bring to our world. Honeybees differ in many ways from native bee species. While most native bees do not sting at all, a honeybee will die after it stings a human just one time. Additionally, the honeybees’ principal form of communication is through chemicals called pheromones. Moore spent months working with the Chatham Park team so that the landscape architects could design a garden around the needs of the bees as well as his needs as the beekeeper.
Mimicking hollow tree trunks, these hives allow bees to undergo each stage of their lives from eggs to larvae and then pupae to emerging adults. They will also be able to store pollen and nectar in their new homes and create honey. As the hive grows, more frames will be added. In addition to the eight hives at the WRC, a pollinator “condo” has been installed near the greenway and stormwater pond at Vineyards. This structure, built by Wood Art Studios in Pittsboro, will benefit native bees with numerous areas available for bees to nest individually.
Since the bees were moved from their original habitat, they must relearn where everything is located. To reduce their stress of finding food, Moore placed feeders in the form of dark blue boxes on top of their homes. Eventually these feeders will be removed once the bees find their own sources of nectar. The feeders were also installed because the bees were moved in late summer before the fall nectar flow so available food was scarce. It is imperative that they be provided with a sugar syrup as 40% of hives die in the winter, many due to starvation. Moore is also conscientious of the fact that since the mid-1980s, honeybees have been plagued by parasitic mites that can kill entire colonies if left untreated. The result has been a dramatic drop in the state’s honeybee population. Moore made sure that our Chatham Park honeybees are treated for the varroa mite and will give the bees continual care. He even plans to harvest the excess honey stores next spring.
As we promote community togetherness, we encourage our residents in Vineyards at Chatham Park to be good neighbors to these natural wonders. Bees face many challenges, but you can help by planting seasonal foliage, especially plants that bloom during the summertime. Growing organically is always best as pesticides kill bees but here are alternative options to going full organic:
- Use liquid pesticides, rather than dust, as bees can inadvertently mix dust pesticides with the
pollen, they are gathering on their legs and then feed their babies with it back at the hive.
- Do not spray the blooms themselves.
- Treat your plants in the late afternoon or evening. Bees are usually done with their field work by 5 or 6pm.
Check out NCBeeKeepers.org for more information on the best flowers and shrubs to plant. You can also offer small pollinator condos in your backyard -perfect for native bees – and birdbaths are a huge asset to bees as they spend a lot of their energy bringing water to their hive. Flapping their wings across that water keeps their hive climate controlled at a comfortable 92 degrees year-round. Keep in mind that these tiny insects are traveling and pollinating across an expansive 5-mile radius from their hive. Let’s give them a zone where they can live and flourish!
BEE in the Know! Some fun facts about our amazing friends.
- Bees have five eyes and six legs.
- Bees have two pairs of wings.
- Bees fly about 20 mph.
- Bees are vegetarians while wasps are carnivores.
- Male bees in the hive are called drones.
- Female bees in the hive (except the queen) are called worker bees.
- The queen may lay 600-800 or even up to 2,000 eggs each day during her three- or four-year lifetime. This daily egg production may equal her own weight. She is constantly fed and groomed by attendant worker bees.
- Worker honeybees live for about four weeks in the spring or summer but up to six months during the winter.
- The honeybee’s wings stroke 11,400 times per minute, thus making their distinctive buzz
- A honeybee visits 50 to 100 flowers during a collection trip.
- Honeybees are not native to the US. They were brought by the earliest European settlers.
- Bees carry pollen on their hind legs in a pollen basket or corbicula.
- A populous colony may contain 40,000 to 60,000 bees during the late spring or early summer.
- An average beehive can hold around 50,000 bees.
- Foragers must collect nectar from about 2 million flowers to make 1 pound of honey.
- The average forager makes about 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime.
- Average per capita honey consumption in the US is 1.3 pounds.
- Bees are important because they pollinate approximately 130 agricultural crops in the US including fruit, fiber, nut, and vegetable crops. Bee pollination adds approximately 14 billion dollars annually to improved crop yield and quality.
- Only the strongest hives make honey.
- Honey never spoils and is still edible after it crystallizes. Just heat the jar in warm water.
- A swarm is when a colony reproduces. A new queen is made and the old one leaves with about half the workers to start a new colony elsewhere.
- Bees are very gentle during a swarm.
- 80% of native bees do not sting.
- Home remedies for bee stings include applying meat tenderizer and tobacco.
- NC has the largest beekeeper association in the country NCSBA.
- North Carolina has over 500 native bee species.
- The honeybee is North Carolina’s state insect.
- Most native bees are cavity dwellers.
- Over 50% of native bees are solitary nesters which will pollinate blooming plants but do not produce surplus honey.
- Honey is 80% sugars and 20% water.
- Honeybees produce beeswax from eight paired glands on the underside of their abdomen.
- Honeybees must consume about eight pounds of honey to be able to biochemically produce each pound of beeswax.
- Fermented honey, known as Mead, is the most ancient, fermented beverage. The term “honeymoon” originated with the Norse practice of consuming large quantities of Mead during the first month of a marriage.
- A drone bee comes from an unfertilized egg; therefore, it has no father, but it has a grandfather.