EAST TENNESSEE (WATE) – Bee populations, especially that of the honeybee, are important to Tennessee agriculture for crop pollination. 

According to the state, the value of crops benefitting from pollination exceeds $119 million annually in Tennessee.

The state has been working with its environmental and transportation departments to integrate more pollinator-friendly habitats along Tennessee roads. There’s a plan in place. You can view that here. 

“Pollinators are a diverse group of species which includes birds, bees, butterflies, bats and beetles. They are critically important to life and their numbers are in steady decline as a result of loss of habitat, pests and pathogens, exposure to pesticides and other stressors. In response, pollinator-friendly language has been included in the nation’s current transportation funding law, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST),” the state’s web page says. 

Swarming season

Spring means bees, but with bees often come swarms. If you see a swarm of bees (basically is when the bees of the hive divide to find a new hive or follow their queen when she leaves the hive), don’t harm them. Call a swarm removal expert. 

The Knox County Beekeepers Association has more information on who to call for swarm removal. 

You can find that information here. Or, text, iMessage, or leave a voice mail at (865) 356-6033.

How you can help the bees, other pollinators 

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Forest Service, bees are the most effective pollinators because they feed only on flowers. Flowers attract and reward bees for their pollination service, bees gather two kinds of foods from flowers – sugar-rich nectar to fuel their flight and protein-rich pollen, or “bee bread” to feed their young brood (baby bees larvae). 

The U.S. Forest Service recommends the following for keeping a pollinator-friendly garden:

  • Use a wide variety of plants that bloom from early spring to late fall (perennials, annuals & blooming fruit trees)
  • Avoid modern hybrid flowers, especially “doubled” flowers
  • Eliminate pesticides whenever possible
  • Include larval host plants in your landscape
  • Create a damp salt lick for butterflies and bees 
  • Spare the limbs, or build a bee condo for nesting
  • Add nectar sources like 4-parts-water with 1-part-sugar; never use artificial sweeteners or fruit juices
  • Add an easy (for takeoffs & landings) water source for them in your yard

For more information about how to plant a bee garden, click here.