Saturday, February 4, 2012

Bee Friendly Farming

Fertile Ground is the 1st in Canada to certify as a Bee Friendly Farm! Pollination Canada (a branch of Seeds of Diversity) has recently partnered with Partners for Sustainable Population to bring the program north.

The widely-reported disappearance of honeybees (called Colony Collapse Disorder or CCD) brought public attention to the issues facing both honeybee populations and native pollinators. Some common factors that affect CDD are nutritional stress (due to a lack of access to a wide variety of forage plants), and exposure to pesticides which weaken & confuse the bees, leaving them susceptible to a variety of parasite and disease pressures. Native bee populations also suffer due to lack of appropriate habitat for them to build nests. Pollinator health is a key food security issue, as since bees (as the insect group which does the majority of pollination work) are responsible for 30% of the crops produced in the world.

Bee Friendly Farming (BFF) is an initiative that encourages growers to improve pollinator healthy by increasing awareness of the best management practices for bees. Applicants self-certify by answering 10 questions about practices such as growing native plants and appropriate forage, minimizing pesticide exposure, providing water access, and protecting nesting habitats. I'm really excited to learn more, and to host a Pollinator Party/Work Bee at the farm - likely the 1st Saturday of June - where we'll plant some native pollinator-friendly flowers, learn to identify some native bees and learn more about our honeybee hives from our farm beekeeper.
Here are some pics of some of our "bee pasture"...
This one has a bumblebee in the foreground, and some other kind of bee in the background I don't (yet) know how to identify:
Zucchini blossoms which are often home to sleeping native Squash Bees:

If you're intrigued, you can follow Friendly Farming on their facebook page.