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SUPPORTING BEES: PREPARING FOR A HURRICANE


Losing large numbers of bees and other pollinating insects has wide ranging effects on all of us. Many flowers rely on these insects for pollination in order to produce their fruits. Without pollinators, we would lose many of our locally-grown veggies and fruits – everything from avocados to zucchini!


It is not just bees that are affected by the lack of flowers. Adult Jack Spaniards (paper wasps) primarily eat nectar, but they also hunt caterpillars for their young to eat. If the adults do not have sufficient nectar, they will starve, leading to a boom in caterpillars. On St. Croix, we saw this after Hurricane Maria, when farmers lost precious crops of tomatoes, cucumbers and other veggies to unusually large numbers of caterpillars.


After a storm, bees will also be looking for a source of fresh water. They often flock to pools and large buckets of water. Unfortunately, they don’t have anything to hold onto and can easily drown in these water sources. If you have a pool, consider creating a safe way for bees to drink, like bee floats – watch the Supporting Bees video for a craft project using wine corks. You might also set up a bee watering station with a bucket or a saucer and some rocks.

If you hang a hummingbird feeder, don’t be surprised to see bees also drinking from it. The nectar water serves a double purpose, providing both hydration and energy not only to hummingbirds, but to our pollinating insects too!

SUPPORTING BEES

Bees are important because they pollinate fruit and vegetable producing trees and plants. Hurricanes usually blow away the flowers and plants that bees and other pollinating insects need to feed.

HOW CAN YOU HELP BEES BEFORE AND AFTER A HURRICANE?

The best way you can help bees is to plant trees far in advance so that they have time to mature before a storm hits.

  • Palm trees are one of the best options as they maintain their flowers even after a hurricane.

  • Plant herbs such as basil and cilantro in containers that can be brought inside during a storm, then put back outside after the storm has passed. Use some for yourself and let some go to flower.

Once a hurricane has hit, bees will be looking for a fresh source of water, and they often flock to pools and large buckets of water. Because they don’t have anything to hold onto, they often drown in these freshwater sources. A craft project you can do to prevent the bees from drowning is to create bee floats that you can provide with a freshwater source.

DIY BEE FLOAT

You will need:

  • Wine corks (synthetic are best)

  • Beads

  • Wire

  • Needle nose pliers

  • Dremel tool or drill with a thin bit to make holes through the wine corks

How to:

  1. Drill your holes into the wine corks

  2. String the wire through the beads and the corks in any shape you want to attach them all together

BEEEE CREATIVE! 🐝

Alternate option: If you do not want to create floats, you can also simply float corks in a bucket of fresh water or place rocks in a saucer with water.

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