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Rhody Radio episode transcription has been been made possible by the American Rescue Plan: Humanities Grants for Libraries, which is an initiative of the American Library Association (ALA) made possible with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.


Making Your Yard Pollinator Friendly

A wildflower garden in bloom with a sign labeled "pollinator habitat" in the middle of it. Rhody Radio logo banner at the bottom of the image featuring an illustration of the state of Rhode Island wearing headphones.



Emily Goodman: You're listening to Rhody Radio, Rhode Island Library Radio Online. I am Emily Goodman, Community Outreach Coordinator for the North Kingstown Free Library and Rhody Radio Editorial board member. This week's episode comes to you from Scott Langlais, President of the Rhode Island Beekeepers Association. Scott will speak a bit about pollinators and how to support them from your own backyard.

You'll hear Scott mention that it is National Pollinators Month. National Pollinators Month actually falls in June, which is when this episode was recorded, but we believe that pollinators deserve our support all year round. I'm sure that Scott will convince you of that too. In addition to being president of the Rhode Island Beekeepers Association, Scott is the operator of Bare Hands Apiary in Johnston, Rhode Island, and is an EAS Certified Master Beekeeper. We hope you enjoy today's show.

Scott Langlais: Hello. Since 1917, the Rhode Island Beekeepers Association has been committed to educating both beekeepers and the general public about issues affecting the health of honeybees. As time has gone on, our mission has actually evolved to also advocate for pollinators in general. My name is Scott Langlais. I am the current president of the Rhode Island Beekeepers Association. I'm happy to be joining you today during National Pollinator Month to talk about the importance of pollinators and some simple steps that we can all take in our own yards to help support them.

Starting at the beginning, what is pollination? At its most basic level, pollination is how plants reproduce. Pollen, as we perceive it as humans, is a kind of powdery dusty substance. If you've ever washed your car on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in March, and then you come out on Sunday morning, it's covered in that layer [00:02:00] of yellow, dusty material. That's pollen.

As bees and other pollinators move from plant to plant sipping nectar, they get dusted with that pollen accidentally and then will potentially transfer it to another plant of the same species. That's how that male genetic material, which is in the pollen, gets moved to the female reproductive parts of another plant to complete the reproductive process. Now, if all goes according to plan, the same pollen from the same species gets transferred. The male sperm cells grow. Eventually, that will create a fruit, a seed inside the fruit, and that's essentially the next generation for that plant.

Why is this important? If we want to look at just the economics of it? It's estimated that up to a third of the US diet is pollinated by insects, so things like almonds, oranges, cucumbers, melons, tomatoes, a lot of what we can call specialty crops are a direct result of insect pollination. The current estimated value on that is in the range of 14 billion annually. This really has really profound economic importance to our country.

Currently, the way our agricultural system is set up, we require honeybees to provide those pollination services. We wouldn't have the same amount or the same quality of those foods if it wasn't for the ability to move honeybees in and out of those crops as they come into bloom. Current estimates are in the range of two and a half million hives being rented annually for pollination contracts.

You've probably heard, especially recently it's been in the news a little bit, about the almond pollination in California. This is really like-- we consider the [00:04:00] Super Bowl of pollination events in our country. It tends to be around February, something like three quarters to some estimates say up to 90% of every hive in the country gets moved on trucks into California to accomplish this pollination.

It really would not be possible without honeybees being able to be moved in there at that specific time in those specific numbers. We wouldn't be able to support the almond industry that we have in our country. Beyond just the ability to produce the fruit though, it also produces more fruit and better fruit. Pollination is also necessary for certain plants that need to be cross-pollinated. Certain species when pollinated by pollen from their own species aren't going to be as viable. They need pollen from another species or another variety in that species. Honeybees and other pollinators will help to support that cross-pollination.

Now, this talk that I'm giving about pollinators here is certainly meant to be information that's generally applicable to all pollinators. Certainly, as a beekeeper myself, my main focus tends to be honeybees. You're going to hear a lot about honeybees in this, but the recommendations that we make on how to support or bolster honeybee health is generally going be applicable to all other pollinators that I'm going to talk about during the course of this talk.

Who pollinates besides honeybees? They certainly are probably the most well-known. Bees in general, there are lots of native bees. Some estimates say up to 4,000 species of native bees. In the United States here in Rhode Island, I believe the estimates are closer to around three to 400, and it can be hard to get exact numbers on that because a lot of the [00:06:00] native species, they tend to be solitary bees. They don't always live in very easily accessible or noticeable spots, so it can be hard to get a census on what their numbers are.

Honey bees, as we know, they live in these very large colonies. At this time of year, we're talking up upwards of 40,000, 50,000, 60,000 bees in a honeybee colony, but many of our solitary bees obviously are solitary. Butterflies are also important pollinators. The monarch is probably the poster child for a lot of pollinator conservation efforts right now, but there are tons of species of butterflies, moths, wasps, flies, beetles, some of the other important insect pollinators, but birds are also pollinators. The hummingbird is probably the most well-known.

Then there are other non-animal ways that pollen gets moved around and among them are wind and water. To circle back to what I said earlier about when you come out in your cars covered in that layer of pollen, that's from wind-pollinated plants. Say, a pine tree produces massive quantities of pollen that just gets blown out into the air. Because they don't have a method to target a specific female receptive plant for that pollen, they need to just spray out literally millions of grains of pollen in all directions, just in the hopes that some of that correct pollen will land on another tree of the same species.

That's responsible for a lot of seasonal allergies. If you have pollen allergies, they tend to be related mostly with wind-blown pollens, which tend to be a lot of trees, a lot of grasses, reeds, things of that nature. There are also water-pollinated plants. Certain aquatic [00:08:00] plants will actually float pollen along the surface of the water, again, in hopes that that will reach another plant of the same species and accomplish that pollination.

Like I said, I am a beekeeper, so bees, honey bees especially are my focus. They are really extremely well adapted as pollinators. They have these large perennial colonies that make them available at a time of year where other native bees might not be available. It's not that honey bees are necessarily the best pollinator on a bee-per-bee basis. Bumblebees are really excellent pollinators.

Other bee species, depending on what the crop is, maybe a better pollinator than a honeybee, but honeybees have these specific qualities and traits about them that on a whole make them just really stupendous at the job they do, so these large perennial colonies that are able to be moved in at a time of year where other bees aren't available. Honey bees, unlike many native bees or other native insects of other kinds, they don't go into a hibernation state over the winter.

You're not going to see them flying because it's too cold for them. They generally won't fly if it's below say around 50-55 degrees, but they are alive. They are not sleeping, they're not hibernating. They form what we call a cluster in the winter, in the center of that cluster is going be the queen. Then the other worker bees create this basketball-shaped cluster around her, where the outer layer of that cluster is an insulating layer of bees. The bees on the inside are able to move around a little more, and they're actually able to vibrate their flight muscles to create heat within the hive.

Honeybees, obviously, we know they make honey, and one of the reasons for that is [00:10:00] over the course of the winter, they need to eat that honey to be able to convert to energy, to create the heat that they're going to need to keep that cluster warm enough over the course of the winter.

They will store an excess amount of honey because they don't know how long the winter is going to last. Most bee species don't really have a governor on that to tell them when enough honey is enough, so they can store an excess. If there is an excess, then we as beekeepers can take that for ourselves, obviously, being careful to leave them enough for their own larder to survive for the winter, but it really is a pretty amazing process. They can keep the center of that cluster at a warm enough temperature that they can survive really the coldest winters that we can throw at them here in Rhode Island and in even colder environments than Rhode Island.

They also have the ability to be managed and moved very easily. As I alluded to earlier with the California almond pollination events, these bees get moved, the entire hives get loaded onto trucks and they'll get moved great distances. That's something that we can't necessarily do with a lot of native bees or other kinds of pollinators. The hives themselves are easy to move. They're convenient for the beekeeper. If you've ever seen a truck full of bees, they get loaded right onto pallets, so they can be moved with forklifts. When that gets to the field, another forklift can offload that pallet right onto the ground.

It makes it very convenient to move around. Then when that crop is finished, whatever it is, they can get reloaded onto a truck and move to another crop and generally another and another down the line. Almonds in February tend to be one of the earliest. Then from there, they might get moved to cherries, apples, cucumbers, pumpkins, what have you, depending on the route they're taking. There are many [00:12:00] different routes throughout the country. A lot of them start in California. Some of them go north, some of them go east, and again, it's the majority of all colonies in America, which is staggering to think about.

The majority of hives in the country are in the hands of commercial beekeepers. Backyard beekeepers like myself, numbers-wise we outnumber commercial beekeepers, but the commercial beekeepers own more hives overall than backyard beekeepers. That's why we can say three-quarters of all hives in the country are moved to almonds, but yet maybe no hive in Rhode Island gets moved there. We tend to be smaller scale. We don't move our bees around. That tends to be the larger commercial beekeepers.

Honeybees also have this really interesting trait called floral fidelity. When a worker honeybee is out foraging for nectar, she will generally only feed on a single species of flower. If she goes out on her first foraging trip and her first little sip of nectar happens to be dandelion, for that entire trip, she's only going to feed on dandelion. That's really important because for pollination to occur, the pollen from the initial plant has to go to the same species of plant. Dandelion pollen can't pollinate a crocus say.

This floral fidelity is a really important component of that. When she goes out, she's going to feed on only a single kind of flower for that trip. Then when she goes back to the hive, she'll unload the nectar she collected. Now on her next trip, she might go to a different species of flower, but every individual trip she makes during that little forging run will again be on that same species. It really helps to target get the pollen where it belongs.

Honeybees are also [00:14:00] generalists, so they don't only feed on a very specific range of flowers, that they'll go to all different kinds. Their bodies have so many interesting adaptations that make them excellent at pollen collection. Probably chief among them is that their entire body is covered in what we call plumose hairs. Unlike a human or a mammal where we have smooth hair, if you were to see their hair under a microscope, they're actually branched almost like a feather, and like a feather duster, when they encounter a dusty layer of pollen on a plant, it gets-- by static electricity just entirely cover their body. It really is one of the most interesting to see when we observe bees in our own yard.

When we see a plant that has a really abundant source of pollen and a honeybee is on there forging, her entire body will just be dusted with this pollen. Her body, her wings, even the surface of their eyes are covered in these tiny hairs. Again, this is not an intentional service that they're providing. This is just an accident of the fact that they happen to be feeding on nectar. Some of them do actually forage specifically for pollen, but they're not moving pollen around intentionally.

It's just an accident of nature, but the plants and the bees have evolved together this mutually beneficial arrangement. Plants produce this sweet nectar that bees will, will feed on. It's both an inducement for them as well as a reward. As a function of that, while honey bees are moving from plant to plant to feed on this nectar, they're moving the pollen around, which is something that plants can't do. Obviously, for most animals, for humans mating, we can move to our mate wherever he or she is in the world. Plants don't [00:16:00] have that luxury. They require some other agent to physically move the male genetic material to the female. That's what honeybees are providing here.

Then finally, their entire diet consists of pollen and nectar. Wasps are also a pollinator, but they are carnivorous. They'll eat other insects, but they may make a stop off on a flower to take a quick sip of nectar for some quick energy, and again, unintentionally on that trip will provide some pollination but honeybees are really-- they're entirely focused on pollen and nectar. When you move them into a field whatever is in bloom there, they're not going to waste their time looking for other insects to eat or anything else. They're solely interested in pollen and nectar as far as their diet goes. It really makes them uniquely adapted for large-scale pollination, especially. We understand that pollination is important. It's frankly it's critical to the food supply of our country. Again, both the quantity and the quality.

What are some simple steps that we can take to protect pollinators? First, among them, you want to reduce or cease pesticide use if possible. I know that isn't always possible, but any steps you can take in that direction are probably going to have some net benefits to pollinators in general. You want to make sure if you do need to use a pesticide, you really read that label carefully.

I can tell you from experience that pesticide labels are not written in a very user-friendly manner. They tend to be very detailed. They tend to be very small print, but it's really important if we want to protect both pollinators, but the applicator as well, these labels are written also to protect the humans who are using them as well as other [00:18:00] animals in the environment, so you really need to read that label.

We say that the label is the law. That's one of our mantras, and it's actually a violation of federal law to use a pesticide in a manner not specified by the label. Even some pesticides you could use around your yard may say that they are safe for bees or other pollinators, but it's only going to be when you're using it according to the label. If you use two or three times the amount it specifies to use, that may be harmful to bees or pollinators, whereas if you use the recommended dose, it won't be. So reading the label is going to be a really, really important consideration.

Planting pollinator-friendly plants certainly is always a very popular method. You also want to consider leading weeds in place to bloom, if you can. I know that can be a contentious issue. Weeds really suffer from bad PR. Dandelions are beautiful if you have the mindset to see the beauty in them. If you're trying to have the perfect golf course, straight green lawn, they're going to be an eye sore to you, but if you can rethink what your expectations are, do what you can and lead those weeds in place to bloom. You don't have to let them go to seed after their bloom, mow them down, but weeds really in general around here are often visited by honeybees.

Clovers, dandelions are one of our earliest spring nectar and pollen sources. If at all possible, try to leave those weeds in place to bloom, even if it's not maybe you want to leave your front lawn with that pristine golf course quality, but maybe there's an area in the back where you can allow some of the weeds to go to bloom. You also want to consider nesting sites.

Now this isn't [00:20:00] really applicable to honeybees, which are only managed by man. Many of our native bees nest in soil. Some pollinators may nest in leaf litter in the woods. If you can leave some bare spots, that may be something you can do to also provide support for pollinators. Then you also want to think about supporting local farmers, support local beekeepers through honey sales or their products, local growers of plants. Do what you can to take part in conservation efforts.

Even if it's attending a lecture at the Audubon Society or just even talking with your neighbors, anything you can do. If you see your neighbor out there every day dousing his yard in pesticides, you want to always be respectful, but some people aren't as well informed on these issues. Just having a simple conversation with them. I know when we bring people into our yard and we show them everything that's in bloom and how it's being used by these insects, and also how gentle they are. We're not bothered by wasps on our flowerbeds. If we don't bother them, they generally don't bother us.

Having that conversation and being able to expose people to that where they may not have been exposed to that can have a real important impact. I mentioned pesticides. It tends to be a real hot button issue. Again, the easiest thing I could recommend is to reduce or just not use them at all because when it comes to what is safe for pollinators, as far as pesticides and what isn't, there are just a slew of considerations that need to be looked at.

What time of day is the pesticide being applied? What is the specific product being used and then what is the [00:22:00] formulation of that product? I.e. is it dust, is it a spray, is it a liquid? Is it a seed coating? What other plants are in bloom at the time? Are you using other products, whether pesticides or fungicides or other products in your yard that might come in combination with that new pesticide and have some new synergistic effect that could be harmful?

What is the distance from the application to either native or honeybee species? What's the potential for drifting from the application onto non-target plants? Is there availability of alternate forage if it is sprayed on something that pollinators may visit? Really, that's just the tip of the iceberg. The bottom line is it's extremely complicated. Again, the label is the law, so read that label very carefully if you can.

If you can find a way to live with the problem or try a more organic or maybe a little more complicated method, but in a small yard, that may be doable. Handpicking pests off plants or garlic sprays, things like that may be useful. When you go to a hard chemical, it's a very, very complicated and contentious issue. The easiest thing, again, for me to say would be avoid if you can. I know that's not always reasonable, so you're going to have to use your best judgment on that.

For my money, pollinator plants are really probably the best method that a homeowner has to positively affect pollinator populations in general. There are certain ideas that we want to keep in mind when we're adding plants. If possible, you want to plant clumps of similar flowers, three or four-foot diameter clump of several of the same species of flowers is going to be more attractive than say taking those five or [00:24:00] six plants and dispersing them widely throughout your yard.

You want to consider both nectar and pollen because different pollinators will use both or one or the other. It's also important because it provides a more balanced diet if it's only a field of clover, that may be a really, really attractive site for honeybees, especially it can create a big honey crop off of that. Just like you or I are eating the same food every single day, even if it's something nutritious, after a week or two, we really need to diversify a little bit to get more full nutrition.

Different pollens have vastly different protein levels that tends to be what bees especially are getting from pollen is protein. Some are highly nutritious. They have a high amount of protein, some have a lesser amount, but if we are able to provide many different choices, we're more likely to cover all the bases that they're going to need. Another real important consideration is to try to have continuous blooms over the entire year. If you choose, say, four or five plants, they all bloom during the same week in the middle of July, well, that week is going to be a real bonanza, but the rest of the year could be tough for them.

If we have plants that are blooming from the start of the season right up until the winter, the last blooms we can have, again, we're going to cast the widest net as far as providing benefits in a general and non-targeted way. Again, plant diversity, important. It'll also encourage pollinator diversity, and abundance, as well as providing the balanced nutrition that I mentioned earlier.

Then native plants, I always try to recommend native plants. They're going to do the best for you [00:26:00] without a ton of other inputs, without excessive watering, the need for pesticides, the need for fertilizers. There may also be non-natives that you can use to help fill in, especially if you have periods where there's not a lot of native stuff in bloom at the time in your yard. Maybe a non-native at that time of year would be something useful you have to provide some food during that period. Of course, you always want to avoid invasive species.

When planting for pollinators, probably the most important consideration is site prep. This is really on a larger scale than maybe if you're just planting five or six things in your yard or in a garden bed along a walkway. If you want to do a larger planting, in my yard, our front lawn is a traditional turf grass through very small little patches of grass and then the third aspect of it we have converted to a pollinator meadow look. For a larger planting like that, you really want to focus on site prep. You're going to want to remove whatever is growing there, whether it's grass, whether it's weeds.

After that initial removal of all that material, new weed seeds are going to come up to the surface. During the course of that, they're going to germinate. You want to remove those. For full fields of pollinator plants, these efforts tend to be started say the year before because it really is going to pay dividends if you can reduce the competition from native weeds that are already in the ground. You want to really focus on site prep. It's like painting your house. The actual painting is the smallest aspect of it. It's all the sanding, scraping, priming, taping off. Your initial prep is really what's going to make or break that job.

Seed-to-soil contact, really critical. [00:28:00] Some of these seed mixes, you can plant in the fall. If you're just scattering them on the ground you want to make sure it's not already covered by a layer of dead leaves, or whatnot. The seed-to-soil contact is really important. You want to remove, again, as much of the competition as possible. Then as far as planting depth, most of these, especially native plant mixes, if it's a native plant, they tend to go to seed. The seeds are going to fall either in the fall or the winter. As you can imagine, they don't need to be planted very, very deep. They're meant to hit the ground and germinate there.

The kind of mantra associated with that is that you can't plant too shallow for those native perennials, especially, but check the seed mix and what they recommend. Again, there are a lot of different mixes that are available on the market. The Xerces Society has a great one. They target their mixes to different geographic locations all across the country, so there's a Pacific Northwest pollinator mix, there's a Southeast and, of course, there is a Northeast pollinator mix.

Most of these mixes are going to contain some grasses, which helps. It does create that prairie look. Grasses are also important as far as nesting sites for certain native bees and other species. Butterflies may use those as host plants as well. You want to make sure if you're shopping around for a seed mix that it doesn't contain more than about 25% grass seed or over time those grasses are going to outcompete the flowers in the mix.

Again, I mentioned, try to have blooms that are blooming all year. Up in Rhode Island where we are, we have flowers that will bloom as early as January or February. Starting in late winter, early spring, there are witch hazel varieties that are blooming [00:30:00] literally in January. Witch hazel is a tree. There are also a lot of bulbs you may be familiar with. Crocuses are one of our earlier flowers that bloom. Siberian squills are really beautiful, little bulb. It produces this really interesting blue pollen that, as a beekeeper, I always look forward to seeing it coming into the hive.

Honeybees have this structure on their back leg that we call a pollen basket, so when they are out on a flower, when they are actively collecting pollen, they pack the pollen, these pollen grains into little pellets. We'll see them flying back to the hive. There are a lot of charts that explain what color pollen corresponds to what plant, but the one that we all know is the Siberian squill which produces this really beautiful blue pollen. That's an early blooming plant in Rhode Island.

Red maple, a really important source. This is probably a really good time to mention when we think of pollinator plants, I think a lot of people have the tendency to think in terms of flowers like garden flowers, but trees are really really so important. The amount of real estate that a single tree takes up, if you think about the amount of blooms that it has on it, it would be hard to overestimate how important that can be compared to just putting in a 5 or 6 one-gallon pots of something that's known to be like a good pollinator flower. Red maple is certainly one of the earliest ones in our area.

Pussy willow, another great one. Going to the spring, we have various fruit blooms, apples are great, blackberry, cherries, also the black locust which is one of the more important honey-producing trees in Rhode Island, hollies, the tulip tree, a personal favorite of mine is catmint. [00:32:00] Obviously, it is in the mint family. Deer-resistant, it's an absolute pollinator magnet. Honeybees, bumblebees, other native bees, butterflies, I have even seen hummingbirds feeding at it. A really resilient plant, no pests that I can see.

My yard is constantly under attack by deer, woodchucks, rabbits, what have you. They don't bother the catmint at all. It doesn't have the habit of some other mints of spreading in that uncontrolled manner, so if you want it in a more formal bed, it's very easy to put there and keep it under control. It will get larger, but it just grows-- as a whole, it doesn't spread out the way spearmints, say, does. Almost everything in the mint family is going to be attractive to pollinators.

Going into summer, white Dutch clover, again, other mints, Clethra, another favorite of mine. If you have spent time down in a wetland situation, maybe on the edges of a pond or a lake, you'll see that the sweet pepper bush, is the common name for it, has these white spiky flowers, a real pretty sweet scent and can contribute to pretty significant honey yields if there's enough in the area.

Some flowers are also in bloom. The Sumacs are another really one of the most important honey-producing plants in Rhode Island. Milkweeds. Going into autumn, we have English Ivy, there are bush clovers, sage, Sedum, and then two of the biggest ones especially as honeybees especially are trying to get their food reserve set for the winter are going to be the asters and the goldenrods. Those are two specific plants that can produce a large amount of nectar, also a large amount of pollen potentially. [00:34:00]

Really important. Goldenrod may be not the showiest flower, but if you have it spring up in your yard, if it is somewhere where you can leave it off to the side, some people do consider it a weed. Personally, I think it is pretty nice looking especially in a more organic, rustic yard. Maybe not in a more formal garden, but those are really important going into the autumn.

Again, I'm a fan of goldenrod, not everyone is. Some people consider that a weed. That takes us into lawns. For my money, a traditional turf grass lawn, I'm not a big fan of it. Nutritionally, it's essentially a wasteland for pollinators, but maybe you live in a flat, you have a homeowner's association or a condo where you have certain rules about what your yard is supposed to look like, what you can and can't put out there. There are still ways that you can have your lawn, but also mitigate the effects of the lawn. As I said earlier, if you can leave weeds in place to bloom, dandelions, chickweed, violets, purslane, these are all things that may come up in your lawn.

If you can wait until after they bloom, before you mow them, that's going to provide some food there where otherwise it would just be a dessert, so raise your mower height. If you can raise your mower height an inch or two, the grass gets a little longer. It will reduce your need to water as much which will be beneficial overall. If you can think about it, not in terms of strictly the golf course, pure green lawn, you could also mix in some flowers and plant intentionally.

Clover could be a great one, bird's-foot trefoil, self-heal, there are some others. Even some of the bulbs I mentioned earlier, [00:36:00] squill would be a nice one or crocus will get you some blooms at a time when not much else is blooming, and your grass is not really growing at that point either so maybe if you have an area where you can devote that, throw some of those bulbs in. By the time your lawn really starts growing, say mid-spring, those flowers will all be-- Anyway, you can mow them under.

Think, again, when you're trying to introduce some pollinator plants into these areas, it doesn't have to be all or nothing. Again, in my yard, I personally have no interest in a turf grass lawn, but I still leave the too traditional little patches out in front of my front door, and then I have the whole backyard and my side yard which is my pollinator garden. It helps keep things still looking neat. You want to be a good neighbor. Not everyone wants to live next to the Adam's family house. Pay attention, say, to the edges.

A wild area if it has clean edges, will look like it's intentional. It won't look like it's overgrown or forgotten about. One of the things we also do, in our specific pollinator garden, we have a sign. The Xerces Society, they make these really great all-weather signs. It actually has a QR code on it. It says, "This is a pollinator habitat. It's been planted with flowers to support pollinators." We have a lot of foot traffic up and down out street.

People can see that. They know this isn't just a plot of land that's been left to go to pot. It was intentional, and hopefully, people may stop, may read that sign, and maybe get the spark to do something similar for their own. I think you can include a lawn even when you're trying to support pollinators, but I would try to really recommend if you can, [00:38:00] find some other areas where you can throw some other pollinator plants in there and reduce the overall amount of your lawn.

Some final thoughts, in her entire lifetime, a honeybee is only going to produce one-twelfth of a teaspoon of honey. That's literally just a few drops, yet the total hive may produce hundreds of pounds of honey over the course of a season. This is one of the best examples I can think of of how small, seemingly insignificant contributions can add up over time to make huge impacts. Today, it's really easy to read stories on the paper, online, or Facebook of all the doom and gloom that is afflicting our natural world, and it's not unusual to feel hopeless when I read some of these stories.

"The insect armageddon" was one that we saw a few years ago. It can feel that we're on a hopeless path to reversing some of these problems, but the bees show us that no single act is inconsequential. Working together as a whole, we have the opportunity to make really, truly significant improvements in our world both for pollinators and mankind in general. If you would like further information, we have a great collection of up-to-date books on bees, general pollinators, and gardening specifically for pollinators at the Greenville branch of the public library in Rhode Island.

You can also visit our website, If you need help, you see a swarm in your yard, if you have questions on pesticides, or honeybee health in general, all our contact information is there. We're always happy to respond to questions. We're also happy to speak to your school, library, scout troop, garden club, or any other group that may be interested in bees. You may also see us at some of the state fairs: Washington County Fair, Foster Old Home Days. We love getting out there and evangelizing about honeybees and pollinators, so if you have any interest, [00:40:00] please feel free to get in touch. Thank you for listening. Have a great day.


Emily: Rhody Radio would like to extend our appreciation to Scott Langlais and the Rhode Island Beekeepers Association for today's episode. If you like to learn more about the Rhode Island Beekeepers Association, check out or check our show notes for the link. Rhody Radio is a project of the Rhode Island Office of Library and Information Services, and this is made possible by a grant from the Rhode Island Council for Humanities. Thanks for listening.


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