A very simple way you can help NJ honeybees get a good start
It's no surprise that honeybees are vital to New Jersey agriculture. Not only do they produce honey, but we heavily rely on them to pollinate our fruits and vegetables.
Over the years, however, populations of our honeybees have been on the decline. And not just here in New Jersey, either.
According to northjersey.com, a project conducted by Rutgers University took a closer look at honeybees and noted "a global trend that saw bee populations drop in New Jersey and beyond" over the past two years. Needless to say, it's a very concerning trend.
And it's not just a trend that's recent. In fact, honeybee populations have been on the decline for years now.
Fortunately for New Jersey, our crops are still doing fairly well despite the population drop of these very important insects.
But aside from crops, it's critical for honeybees to provide nectar and pollen to the colony in early spring. The queen bee is actively laying eggs this time of year, so it's vital that food is available.
It's all the more reason we should do whatever we can to help the honeybee populations that we still have. And there is one simple thing you can do right now that might help them get a leg up.
And not just honeybees, but bees in general. And it all starts with what you do with your lawn. Or, to put it more accurately, what you don't do with your lawn.
Although many throughout The Garden State don't want them, letting dandelions grow on your lawn is really beneficial for all of our pollinating insects. This is especially true for the honeybee.
Dandelions are native to New Jersey and are also safe for human consumption. And during early spring, it's not uncommon to see many species of bees pay a visit to these brightly colored flowers.
Dandelions also have deep roots which enable them to help draw up nutrients into the soil. All the more reasons why it's a good idea to simply let them grow.
According to clevelandclinic.com, Dandelions are wild herbs that "contain compounds that may help prevent health problems" and include nutrients such as calcium, potassium, folate, and vitamins A and C.
It's no wonder why these little flowers are also considered beneficial for humans as well as bees.
Unfortunately, the dandelion is viewed as an unwanted weed for many when it comes to lawns.
Weed killers are often used to get rid of them, which can be very harmful when it comes to the health of our insects.
Now one might ask, why do honeybees need dandelions so much? Do they really depend on them all year round?
The answer to that is no. In fact, there are many other flowers out there that provide the necessary benefits when it comes to pollination.
However, those flowers don't bloom until later in the season. Because of this, many of our bee species, including the honeybee, are extremely limited early in the spring and heavily rely on what little is available at the time.
This is why letting your dandelions grow in your yard would greatly help our bees get a good start to the season.
And, as spring progresses and the warmer weather continues to arrive, so will other flowers that are beneficial to New Jersey's bee populations.
And when more flowers become available for them, our bees will rely less on dandelions. So for those who don't like to have dandelions in their yard, please try to refrain from removing them for now and wait until at least mid-spring to clear your yards of them.
Of course, that's for those who prefer a lush, green lawn. For those who prefer a more natural-looking yard, then simply let the dandelions co-exist with the grass and clovers.
As mentioned earlier, honeybee populations have been on the decline, so anything we can do to help them with food sources and pollination is more important now than ever.
So if something as simple as letting dandelions grow in our lawns will help give our honeybees a good start, then it's worth leaving those dandelions alone for now.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 weekend host Mike Brant. Any opinions expressed are his own.