Most of us remember our last encounter with a bee. Maybe you can recall the pain of being stung or the effort you made to avoid the furry, flying insects. Today, people and corporations around the world aren’t dodging bees but are instead inviting them onto their property for compelling reasons.
Bees pollinate 80 percent of global crops, including trees and produce. Experts say that bees are the barometer of the health of our planet. The fact that the bee population is rapidly shrinking does not bode well for our overall wellness.
Scientists point to a variety of reasons for the desperate plight of bees. Pesticides likely play a role. Another culprit is Varroa mites. These parasites decimate hives, attacking both bees and brood.
As if these issues are not challenging enough, experts speculate that loss of habitat and even interference by people may be adding to the bee crisis.
Thankfully, the plight of honey bees is gaining attention. Individuals and corporations are taking action to help protect them.
Whirlpool Corporation is one of these honey bee protectors. At its Brandywine Creek Center for Leadership and Lifelong Learning in Covert, MI, Whirlpool provides a home to more than 350,000 Italian honey bees.
On a sandy hilltop in the middle of 120 acres of woodland oak, pine and sand dune, a six-hive apiary—built and maintained by Creative Dining Services—provides a sweet flow of honey that is regularly enjoyed by guests at Brandywine Creek.
Creative Dining’s culinary team utilizes the honey in sweet and savory dishes. When the harvest is especially bountiful, excess honey is bottled and sold to benefit local youth programs, which Whirlpool has long supported.
Several Creative Dining staff members had taken up backyard beekeeping, and, after successful seasons at home, they approached Whirlpool about creating pollinator habitat and housing an apiary on the Brandywine Creek grounds. The goal was to educate guests about importance—and plight—of the honey bee and other pollinators. Whirlpool didn’t hesitate to approve.
Creative Dining Facility Manager Brian Wood says, “The honey is great, but our mission is to be good stewards of this unique corporate property and attract and nurture as many pollinators as possible.”
To further this mission, all landscaping and grounds care at Brandywine Creek is organic and low-impact, and Creative Dining staff maintain an indigenous pollinator garden and organic chef’s herb garden as well.
You can join Whirlpool and Creative Dining Services on our mission to help the bee population. Here are a few ways to do so:
Bees are most attracted to purple, blue and yellow flowers. Select flowers that are native to your region—especially varieties that produce the most nectar and pollen.
Read the labels on your pesticides and look for words like “hazardous” or “toxic.” Consider natural weed killer options.
Starting your own hive is not as difficult as you think! Simply do a Google search to find a variety of local options and sources. In order to get your shipment at the optimal time, between March and May, you’ll need to place your order over the winter.
If you don’t want to take on all of the responsibility of overseeing a hive, consider purchasing your honey locally. The National Honey Board makes this process simple. Just plug in your zip code and find a source.