Busy Bees

By Susan Littlefield

Want to know what it's really like to be busy as a bee? Tune into the live bee cam at the People's Garden Apiary located on the roof of the Jamie L. Whitten Building at USDA Headquarters in Washington, DC and get a front row seat to the activity of approximately 40,000 Italian honey bees. You'll see female worker bees that have been busy collecting nectar and pollen to convert into honey.

The two beehives at the People's Garden Apiary were installed in 2010 and 2011. The beehives consist of stacked, wooden, box-like sections called supers, each holding 8-10 wooden frames that contain a thin sheet of wax foundation. The bees build their combs on these foundations. Italian honey bees were selected for the People's Garden Apiary because they are most often used in commercial beekeeping in the United States. Approximately 18 gallons of honey has been extracted from the hives since 2010.

To help you encourage and protect pollinators in your own neck of the woods the folks at USDA list some simple steps you can follow to create a pollinator friendly garden. Go native by choosing plant species found naturally in your ecoregion; try to have flowers blooming in your landscape throughout the growing season; plant each kind of flowering plant in large patches so it's easy for pollinators to find and move among plants; use a diversity of plant species; and limit or eliminate the use of pesticides.

To check out the bee cam, watch a webinar about creating a successful pollinator garden, or download a pollinator planting guide specific to your ecoregion, go to People's Garden Bee Watch.

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