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Bees are an important part of our daily lives
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It’s hard to imagine that our lives, and the quality of life we enjoy, have a lot to do with an insect.

Bees are part of our lives and for the majority of us, we do not realize their importance. We rely on them to pollinate a little over a third of the food we eat.

The United States’ world famous productivity in agriculture has a lot to do with what this insect gives us through pollination as they go about being a bee.

Many of you have heard about declining bee populations around the world. There are many possible reasons for this, and the University of Georgia’s Keith Delaplane is one of the leading researchers working to figure out what is happening.

All of that is mentioned to say that bees have a lot of things going against their survival, but there are a few things we can do to help them along as they help us.

One way is to plan any insecticide applications so as not to interfere with normal bee activity.

Apply chemicals late in the day when bees are not foraging. Use chemicals with low toxicity or those that are less persistent. Spray only the target organ and avoid open flowers. Apply insecticides when there is no wind.

Spray only when the target insects are active. Also, try to use a form of chemical that is going to affect the bees less. A dust-type insecticide will stick to bees as they forage and will either kill instantly or allow the bee to carry the insecticide back to the hive where more bees are contaminated.

Another way to help bees is to provide year-round forage. Plants have adapted to different flowering times, and this is a good way for bees to take advantage of the natural food sources provided by Mother Nature.

Now some plants like golden rod, which flowers in mid fall, is not something that most people would want to plant in a landscape. But it is a plant that a homeowner could leave and allow to flower just so bees can use it for food.

Delaplane has a website with information related to pollination and other topics about beekeeping at www.ent.uga.edu/bees/beekeeping.html.

Little changes in how we maintain our landscapes can make big changes for bees and the environment we live in.

Michael Wheeler is the Hall County extension coordinator. Phone: 770-531-6988. Fax: 770-531-3994. Email wheelerm@uga.edu.

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