Garden club aims to increase bee population citywide

Avon Lake

By Nicole Hennessy

“You have to see my bee house,” Beth Murphy, president of the Avon on the Lake Garden Club, tells friends.

“I don’t think that most people realize that there’s a 90-percent decrease in pollinators over the past few years. And when you consider that a third of every bite we eat is due to pollinators pollinating the plants, we’re in trouble if we don’t help them.”

This will be the second season the garden club is involved with bee houses that provide nesting spaces and shelter for mason and leafcutter bees.

Last year, the club helped put up nine houses around Avon Lake.

The solitary pollinator residents of these houses are nonaggressive and help pollinate nearby plants, which makes for a more robust and natural garden.

“One mason bee does the pollinating of 100 honeybees,” which are not native to North America, Murphy explained.

Similarly, a leafcutter bee is equal to 30 honeybees, in terms of pollination capabilities.

While the numbers regarding native pollinators sound impressive, many see native pollinators as an
important supplement to a strong honeybee population, not a replacement.

Each species has an important role to play.

Last season, the club collaborated with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department and BeeGAP
(Gardeners Adding Pollinators), a joint initiative of the National Garden Clubs and Crown Bees, a company that specializes in pollinator bee supplies.

This year, they’re continuing their partnerships and also encouraging others to add houses to their gardens or even near some simple potted herbs and bee-friendly or native Ohio flowers.

Murphy also encourages homeowners to take a more responsible and well-researched approach to lawn maintenance.

“The colony collapse disorder, that’s affecting more the honey bees than the solitary bees, but they’re all
affected by these neonicotinoids that you hear about and all these other pesticides,” said Murphy.

In addition to learning about the ingredients in lawn products, Murphy says they should be applied at times when bees and other insects are less active. Alternatively, organic lawn care is becoming more popular, or you can just pull weeds manually, leaving a few dandelions and clover patches for good measure, according to Murphy.

“People need to look at that green grass that they have; that is a wasteland to pollinators. It supports nothing,” Murphy said.

She continued, that with pesticides or other chemical treatments, “Not only do you kill that bad bug, but you kill lots of other beneficial insects, so is it really worth it?”

Those interested in purchasing bee houses can use the coupon code, Avon-on-the-Lake GC during checkout at www.crownbees.com.

Instructions can also be found online for homeowners to make their own houses. This can be as simple as providing a small hole in or near a garden for bees to reproduce.

Murphy will be giving a presentation with more information at the Environmental Affairs Advisory Board meeting March 1 at 6:30 p.m. at The Lake House, 32756 Lake Road.

Contact Nicole Hennessy at nicohenness@gmail.com

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