June Seminar: Flowers, Health, and the Benefits of Bees in the Garden

Posted by:Maryann Lemon

Inese Bunch has no fear of bees, handling 30 honey bee hives on her family farm in Miami.  Each hive holds a colony of 60,000 – 80,000 honey bees, and generally, they are not aggressive, gathering pollen and stinging only when they feel threatened.

 A bee's love of flowers and lack of interest in people are the main reasons we should all welcome them in our gardens, especially the native bee species that pollinate local plants.  Like their cousins, the honey bees, South Florida's native bees mind their own business, buzzing between flowers in your garden and helping your plants with reproduction.  Without bees, plants cannot survive, nor can they produce the food we depend on.

Inese, who holds a Master Beekeeper Certification from the University of Florida, will present a free horticulture seminar about beekeeping and the secret life of our native bees, covering their habits, habitat and role in preserving biodiversity in our environment.  She’ll be at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden on Saturday, June 10th from 10am – 12 pm.

At the seminar you can safely observe honey bees at work in a sealed observation hive. Inese will also have jars of local raw honey for sale from her family business, Bunch Farms, which she runs with her husband (http://www.bunchfarms.com). To follow is an interview with Inese.  Hope to see you all at the seminar on Saturday June 10th!

Q: What’s the difference between a honey bee and our local native bees?
A: “Honey bees are the only insects that produce food for humans.  It is in honey bees' nature to gather as much honey as they can to feed their colony and to have a surplus for future needs.  Honey bees are highly social insects. They live  in large colonies, and for this reason, we can successfully manage them and tap into their honey storage habits to produce local raw honey for our community.  Other bees, such as our native South Florida bees, only produce enough to feed themselves and their young. They don’t store honey. Their life cycle and nesting habits are also very different.”
Q: If they don’t give us honey, why are native bees important?
A: “Native bees pollinate native plants more efficiently than honey bees.  In Florida we have lots of native palms, trees, shrubs and wildflowers.  Native bees prefer to visit these plants thus pollinating them and ensuring their reproduction.  The goal of preserving native bee habitats is to promote the flowering and production of native plants, and keep our environment diverse.  If we lose the pollinators, we lose the species.”
Q: What will we learn at the seminar?
A: “At the seminar, you’ll learn how to recognize native bees and learn about their habitat.  You'll learn how to protect them.  They are so small and quick that many people often mistake them for flies.  Miami residents often don’t know they have native bees in their yards and may accidentally harm them or damage their nests.”
Q: Can you get stung by native bees?
A: “Yes, but it doesn’t happen often.  They only sting when threatened or stepped on.  Mostly, they just want to pollinate flowers and get on with their lives.”
Q: Can you tell us about the honey from your farm?
A:  “Raw honey is like a superfood. It is full of vitamins, minerals, and pollen grains which come from various blooms. When consumed regularly, it may help with the allergies and strengthen the body’s immune system and is also a much healthier alternative to other sweets. Our honey comes directly from our hives into the jars. We do not pressure filter or heat our honey to ensure that all the beneficial properties of raw honey are not lost. I eat it, my family loves it, and our customers keep coming back for more.”

Please come along to the seminar at Miami Beach Botanical Garden and learn more about our native bees, honey bees and the many benefits they provide in our lives!

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