Ukiah Daily Journal from Ukiah, California on January 28, 2000 · Page 29
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Ukiah Daily Journal from Ukiah, California · Page 29

Ukiah, California
Issue Date:
Friday, January 28, 2000
Page 29
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ON THE MARKET FRIDAY, JAN. 28, 2000-3 SPRING GARDENS Honeybees: The underappreciated workers By JULIE BAWDEN DAVIS Los Angeles Times Syndicate B ees are the underappreciated workers of the garden. They forage for pollen and spread it around the yard, and they're the reason many plants bear fruit and vegetables. "We tend to take bees for granted, but I can't emphasize enough how important they are for the garden," says David Marder, president of the Orange County Beekeeper's Association and owner of Beebusters, a company that specializes in bee removal in Laguna Beach, Calif. "Crops like almonds are entirely dependent on bees for pollination," he says. Bees are critical in the garden, agrees Eric Mussen, extension apiculturist with the entomology department at the University of California at Davis. "Plants such as cucumbers, squash and melons, as well as many fruit and nut trees, won't produce a crop unless visited by bees. Although some plants can produce without pollination, their crops tend to be inferior," he says. Unpollinated fruits and vegetables will be malformed and only partially developed, A strawberry that wasn't Garden Continued from Page 7 shape of animals and cartoon characters. • Encourage observation. Give children a magnifying glass and let them study the leaves of their plants, Encourage older children to keep a garden journal visited by a bee, for example, will be small. The more pollination, the bigger and better the quality of the fruit and vegetables. And a number of plants will not produce seed without the help of bees. "Bees move plant pollen from the reproductive parts of one flower to another," explains Mussen. This results in seed formation, which eventually becomes a fruit, vegetable, seed or nut. "Those fruits and vegetables that come from a flower usually need pollination." Until recent years, the European honeybee (Apis mellifera) did most backyard pollinating, but these bees have taken a few hits in the last several years. Two mite infestations wiped out many honeybees, and the recent encroachment of Africanized honeybees (Apis mellifera scupellata) has put them at greater risk. Known as "killer bees," Africanized bees can interbreed with European honeybees and quickly transform the behavior of the bees. Unfortunately, when the two types mate, the aggressive behavior is the dominant trait. The threat of European hives becoming Africanized has caused many places to prohibit backyard bee- Remember that a garden is like a giant exper- »ment. it's always Banging, and it doesn't nave to be perfect, Stop and smell the radishes that your child stoves 9 M &ft Angeles ' ..... Syndicate "Attention Tk-nsi Deed Investors: I OC AE FORECLOSE RE SERVICES Knowledgeable Statewide I Prime Pacific, Inc. (707) 468-530O 119&MainSi Ukiah 9 California vis. keeping, which some say is not the answer. "I think it's going to be environmentally detrimental to remove the hives, because all we'll be left with is Africanized bees," says Marder, who moved his bees out of his property in Laguna Beach to a more remote location. Mussen agrees: "All they're really doing is taking friendly bees out of the environment and leaving Africanized ones there. The beekeeper who maintains his colonies is an asset to the community." With the introduction of Africanized bees into an area, properly maintaining a hive now means taking precautions that weren't once necessary, says Nick Nisson, entomologist with the Agricultural Commissioner's office in Anaheim, Calif. "Beekeepers have to take steps to ensure that their hives don't become Africanized, which includes reintroducing a hive on a regular basis with an artificially inseminated queen from a commercial bee breeder," Nisson says. Queens should be replaced at least every year and often more frequently with these artificially inseminated queens. These queens don't go on any mating flights and therefore aren't in danger of breeding with Africanized bees and creating Africanized bees. * 'The hobbyist beekeepers actively maintaining hives need to be aware that they should either get rid of their hives or begin requeening," Nisson says. "It's the unattended hives that cause problems." Despite the Africanized bees' aggressive tendencies, the good news is that they are just as good, if not better, foragers than European bees, so backyard crops shouldn't be adversely affected. "Africanized honeybees are really active pollinators," Marder says. "When you open up one of their colonies, the first thing you see js?an unbelievable amount of pollen. • "i See BUZZ, Page 10 REAL ESTATE RE/MAX Mendocino Central 13270 So. 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