The Beauty & the Bees
October 10, 2020
Did you know the Grapevine Parks and Recreation Department houses three honey bee
hives at the Grapevine Botanical Gardens?
Why do you ask? Because bees are known as nature’s best pollinators. As a newly-recognized Bee City USA® Affiliate, the City of Grapevine wants to ensure we promote bees as pollinators and benefactors of their environment. Bee City USA’s mission is to galvanize communities to sustain pollinators by providing them with healthy habitat, rich in a variety of native plants and free of insecticides.
Nutrition & Honey
Bees depend on flowers and plants for nutrition, and anyone who has visited the botanical gardens you know there are a number of gardens that are plentiful and full. Without bees, we wouldn’t have as much beauty to admire.
Honey bees collect pollen and nectar as food for the entire colony, and as they do, they pollinate plants. Nectar is collected for a few reasons. It’s a bee’s main energy source, as it’s full of
sugar, which is also used to make honey in their hive. When the nectar becomes honey, it is stored in the cells of the honeycomb.
The honey bees at the Botanical Gardens produced about 3 gallons of honey last year and is predicted to produced 5 gallons this year. Pollen is full of fat and protein, which helps feed the hive. When bees collect pollen, they carry it from one flower to another. This cross-pollination is essential for flowers in order to produce more seeds. As bees cross-pollinate, more flowers and plants will grow. A bee gets the nutrients they need, and the garden ends up with more flowers and plants.
“It’s important to provide the honey bees a wholesome habitat like the
botanical gardens to reverse pollinator declines,” said Kevin Mitchell,
Grapevine Parks and Recreation Director.
The Department works with Jeremy Campbell, Lead Beekeeper and owner of WeBeeKeepin.com, who has been helping with the garden’s bees since early this year. Jeremy explains the relaxed nature of the honey bees, “I’ve placed queens in the colonies which were bred for calmness and productivity. This makes the bees less of a potential hazard, and ensures we don’t have Africanized bees present in the apiary.”
Pollinators such as honey bees, bumblebees, sweat bees, mason bees, butterflies, moths, beetles, flies, hummingbirds and many others are responsible for the reproduction of almost ninety percent of the world’s flowering plant species and one in every three bites of food we consume. The City of Grapevine has designated the Keep Grapevine Beautiful Board the facilitating committee for Grapevine’s efforts to engage the community in promoting conservation. The Board meets the second Monday of each month at 6:30 pm at The REC of Grapevine (1175 Municipal Way), as COVID-19 restrictions allow. All residents of Grapevine are invited to offer their ideas for pollinator-friendly initiatives. Find information on board meetings at GoGrapevine.com. The more people and organizations involved, the sooner pollinator declines will be reversed.
What’s happening “In the Hive”
Ever wonder what the bees are doing in there? Jeremy explains what’s happening in the hives for the remaining months of the year.
Bees continue to produce brood (eggs, larvae and pupae of honeybees) but typically show signs of fatigue from disease and lack of pollen and nectar available. Most beehives are grumpy
and defensive during this month. Beekeepers continue to take honey out of the hives if they have not during July.
With the first rains, bees begin to find more pollen and nectar. Sometimes a small bumper crop of honey can be made in North Texas during this month.
Bees begin to close up their honeycombs and backfill the brood best with honey for the winter while brood production decreases. Beekeepers often treat for disease or start preparing for winter during this time by feeding sugar syrup to colonies with inadequate honey stores.
Bees continue to reduce brood production and overall the population can rapidly decrease this month as summer bees begin to die off. Beekeepers continue to feed as necessary.
Bees drastically reduce or halt brood production entirely. Honey is consumed as energy in order for the colony to produce heat using muscle vibrations. Beekeepers often do not disturb hives this month, but it is a good time of year for pest control since pests often hide in the brood during summer.
This article appeared in the fall 2020 issue of Go Grapevine Magazine and was written by Jeremy Campbell and Amanda Rodriguez.