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Danelle Cutting: Learning how to care for good bees

By Danelle Cutting

Cooperative Extension

Cooperative Extension provides training to county citizens. Extension offices combine efforts to create regional training. One such training happened this week in Gaston County. This training was specifically for Extension Master Gardeners to help them earn their continuing education credits for the year; Master Gardeners must receive 12 continuing education credits to maintain their certification.

The advanced training taught the attendees about pollinators, advanced technology, composting, native plants and landscaping on slopes. This was a unique training because it provided expertise from multiple counties. Agents from Rowan, Gaston, Alexander, Catawba, Burke and Caldwell spoke on different subjects.

One of my favorite trainings was from agent Lenny Rogers, who spoke about pollinators. Lenny is the director at the Alexander County office and is a new beekeeper. Rogers taught the students about using native plants in a pollinator garden and even showed some of the class his beekeeping gear.

One of his unique pieces was about planting native plants for native bees. So many people think about the plight of the honeybee but do not think about the native bees that inhabit our area. Some of those native bees are the mason bees and ground nesting bees. Unlike honeybees, these native bees are non-aggressive since they do not have a hive to protect. They are also some of the best pollinators we have. Ground nesting bees, like their name, nest in the ground. Mason bees live in hollow stems, holes in trees, and even some manmade habitats.

Creating a habitat and home for your pollinators and Mason Bees is fairly simple. It only takes time and planning. Mason bees can live in untreated lumber, drilled with holes that are about 5/16 of an inch in diameter. Some simpler homes are made with recycled cardboard. Each has their pros and cons. The wood sometimes holds moisture that can attract additional pests, and the cardboard does not last as long. What matters most is creating additional habitat for the bees, since most of their natural homes are being destroyed.

If you are interested in creating a sanctuary or home for your native bees, please contact your local Cooperative Extension agent, Danelle Cutting, at 704-216-8970.

Or, you can visit these links for more information:

Mason Bees: http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/ent/notes/Other/note109/note109.html

Creating a pollinator habitat: http://growingsmallfarms.ces.ncsu.edu/growingsmallfarms-pollinatorgarden/

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