Buy This 40-Page Booklet for Your Cucurbit and Berry Pollinators
The Vegetable & Small Fruit Gazette
Volume 11, No. 12
Shelby Fleischer, Entomology, Penn State University
Never heard of the Xerces Society? Well, it’s not a widely publicized group, but it is an excellent, small society devoted to conservation of one segment of biological diversity: insects! And they just updated an excellent, inexpensive booklet that can help guide your farm through the many challenges that are facing honey bees. The booklet is called “Farming for Bees: Guidelines for Providing Native Bee Habitat on Farms”, by M. Vaughn, M. Shepherd, C. Kremen, and S. H. Black. First published in 2004, the 2007 expanded and updated version is a free download from www.xerces.org, but I found the $15 for the bound copy well worth the price. To buy the bound copy, call 503-232-6639 (in Portland, Oregon, Pacific Time Zone) and have your credit card ready.
You already know that the honey bee, Apis mellifera, has now added colony collapse disorder to a host of viruses, two species of mites, an invasive beetle pest, and changes in how beekeeping and agriculture works. Solutions are needed for beekeeping and pollination with the honey bee.
Meanwhile, for your farm, you should realize that A. mellifera is only one of multitudes of bees that can be extremely important, and at times primary pollinators, of cucurbits and certain small fruit. We in the northeast, especially, may have some of the best pollination services from conservation of a guild of solitary bees. This is probably due to factors such as our landscapes, the patch size of our fields, the times pollination is needed, our proximity to forest edges, our adoption rate of no-till.
Who are the solitary bees in your farming landscape? How much pollination services are they currently providing, when, and in which crops? How can we conserve the ones that are there? Which floral resources should we encourage for these beneficial species? This book is your easy-to-read primer, from which answers to these questions will emerge as common sense. From that, we can get more specific, and build programs to conserve specific species, such as the squash bee. But first, read over the primer. You’ll have it read within the time it takes to enjoy a few cups of coffee.