For the Love of Bees
By Doreen S Damm
Most of us were taught that when you hear that sound to be afraid of being stung. It happened to me at a very young age, while playing in my sandbox, I somehow managed to sit on a bee. It wasn’t so bad after the tears dried and I got to lay on the couch, eat ice cream and watch cartoons all afternoon, a really big deal in our home. Fortunately, I did not have an allergic reaction which is a greater fear these days than the pain of the sting itself.
Years later and a wealth of knowledge about how important bees are, I welcome them into my garden. Without them, I would have fewer blooms to color my wildlife garden. I also understand that if one is flying around me, I must be wearing a color or scent that is attracting them as our scented products come from nature. Realizing this helps me to garden amongst the bees in perfect harmony. This is not to say it guarantees I will not get stung, but it greatly reduces my odds of unfriendly bee interaction.
Busy as a bee has true meaning for farmers. Did you know that bees are responsible for pollinating as much as 80% of our food crops? Many bee keepers will make arrangements with farmers to keep their hives near their crops. This results in a higher yield for the farmer and more honey for the beekeeper. Choosing a farm that does not use harmful pesticides is a must. This holds true to home gardens as well. With the advance of products like neonicotinoids, many plants are showing up for sale already treated with potentially harmful pesticides and we are planting them in our gardens. Look for the additional plant tag that states “This plant is protected from ………….pest by Neonicotinoids””
A friend of mine, a kindred soul, is a hobbyist beekeeper with a deep love for these winged wonders. You can feel the passion in her voice as she explains how a bee returning to the hive from a viable pollen source gives exact directions to the rest of the workers so they can locate the flower patch. The waggle dance, a bee’s version of google maps, tells how rich the source is, the distance from the hive and which direction to fly. Then an exchange of the flowers scent is made from her antennae.
She and her husband tend to their hives, but let their bees just be best. The reward, Honey! The benefits of local raw honey are far greater than just the taste. The local pollens help relieve allergy symptoms, it contains antioxidants, enzymes, minerals and vitamins. In addition, the Nutraceuticals in raw honey can help neutralize damaging free radical activity. Much of this is lost in commercial honey. Honeybees live in communities that can have as many as 100,000 members. Most are infertile females known as workers, which run all aspects of the hive. She will only live about six weeks before she dies from exhaustion, and will only have gathered enough nectar to make 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey.
Learn about planting a bee garden at
For a list of bee and butterfly friendly plants in Florida see
Doreen S. Damm
Nature Photographer &