- Animals: bees
- Animal Products: honey
- Crop Production: beekeeping, pollination
The bee meadow will provide habitat for native pollinators by providing abundant diversity of blooming forbes (flowering broadleaf herbaceous plants) throughout the growing season, features that provide diapause (overwintering) habitat and foliage that naturally collect water for pollinators. With on site pollinator habitat, pollinators will migrate to the Native berry orchard, vegetable fields and kitchen garden fertilizing flowers to enable fruition of crops.
Pollinator habitat will provide diverse and constant nectar and pollen sources to our honey bee colonies. This will contribute to overall honey bee health and consequent colony stability. This will also reduce the risks of pesticide contamination from off site bee forage which is associated with Colony collapse disorder.
The bee meadow is expected to enhance ecological functioning beyond the services pollinators provide to crops. Native forbes tend to support a higher diversity of native insects, soil microbial activity, amphibians and avian populations. Given that prairie lands in Minnesota are down to .01% of their pre-colonial presence, a bee meadow will act as a small refugee for prairie community species.
Many of the forbes that will be used in the bee meadow have traditional uses as herbal medicines for the indigenous people of the prairies. Given our mission of providing access to indigenous medicines to American Indian families, the bee meadow would greatly expand the sustainable cultivation and distribution of those key herbal medicines.
As a non-profit, one of our priorities is teaching American Indian youth and families about sustainable agriculture, including responsible stewardship for our land and water, and learning about the essential relationship between pollinators and plants. Many of the youth in our programs come from low-income, inner city neighborhoods and have few opportunities for this kind of learning. Our programs are free to Native youth and we provide daily transportation. With this project, we can provide a hands-on learning experience about creating a wildflower-rich habitat to support pollinators.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Nurture diverse and constant nectar and pollen sources to our honey bee colonies, contributing to overall honey bee health and consequent colony stability, and reducing the risks of pesticide contamination from off sight bee forage which is associated with Colony collapse disorder.
- Enhance ecological functioning beyond the services pollinators provide to crops since native forbes tend to support a higher diversity of native insects, soil microbial activity, amphibians and avian populations; the bee meadow will act as a small refugee for prairie community species.
- Create economic benefits including increased honey and vegetable production compared to prior years and long-term productivity of the orchard will be increased (not yet fruit-bearing).
- Expand the sustainable cultivation and distribution of key indigenous herbal medicines from the forbes that will be used in the bee meadow, and expose Dream of Wild Heath participants to the methods of restoring native prairie habitat, identification of Native flora, identification of native fauna, and Medicinal uses of native forbes.