A very complex subject. 25% of our bird species are declining, and rapidly. Other species, such as waterfowl and raptors are increasing. Many, many factors from banning DDT to international agreements on bird breeding grounds have influenced bird populations.
At home, we have to realize one startling fact. Birds are starving to death. If you want to increase populations and save them from the brink of extinction you have to have food available. And lots of it – especially for migratory birds. Birds usually prefer their native berries since they have co evolved with these plants. However, there are some shrubs that our birds love that aren’t native.
I am referring to the currant family. We have purposely sought out the old heirloom black and red currants on farms that birds persistently visit. Now we have black currants ready. Remember, share the berry wealth. Or even better, every bush you plant for yourself plant one for our feathered friends. They will thank you for it.
Check our inventory for currant numbers and availabilities.
Being a nursery, many people ask what trees should they plant. One of my top suggestions is the northern catalpa tree. When they are in bloom they are undeniable. A giant orchid! Needless to say, that when they are blooming they are pollinator magnets. Be sure to plant northern not southern catalpa since the southern type is too fragile for some of our Ontario winters.
This particular catalpa by our front porch is only 18 years old. They grow relatively quickly with very little maintenance. To find out more on the magnificent tree check out our website and the northern catalpa article.
There is still much work to be done to help our dwindling monarch butterfly populations. Just in the US, 150 million acers have been lost to Roundup ready crops. We are probably looking at the same acerage here in Canada. It is obvious that huge amounts of milkweed need to be planted back to the environment.
But we must always look to planting diversity. Did you realize that Ontario was home to 7 different types of milkweed? These diverse plants covered many terrains and made milkweed widespread to the breeding monarchs. Now the horticultural industry only supplies 3 types of milkweed.
We are determined, at B Sweet Honey Nature Company, to offer all the milkweeds native to Ontario. Our first new addition to our milkweed trio is the whorled milkweed. In September, we hope to have a massive milkweed sale and offer whatever has germinated and is ready for planting.
Be sure to check our inventories for the milkweeds. And happy planting.
We launched our ancient tree program several years ago. This program realizes the need to save the genetics of these old trees. The longevity gene, in itself, is a mystery. Why are some individuals long lived and healthy and others not? A mystery. Whatever the explanations, we need to bring these genes forward to the present day plant populations in order to help them be more resilient.
Though we launched this program long ago, it takes time to find these trees, find their history and grow up their progeny. Factor in the fact that many trees are periodical in seed production and you are looking at many years before we could actually offer saplings for sale.
Last year was very sporadic for seed production but we managed to get some good quality, though not abundant, seeds from many of our ancient trees. We now have many 1 year old seedlings from the following:
The Niagara Treaty white oak
The Toronto Carrying Trail white oak
The Niagara Necklace Black Oaks
The Jordan White Oak
The Point Abino Red Oaks
Dundas Driving Park Oaks
We have most of the histories of these trees on the website. Happy reading.
This time of year we yearn to be gardening and feel the soil around our hands and the sun on our faces. But remember that the leaf litter carries this years pollinators and butterflies. By removing leaf litter, and disposing of it, you are disposing of this years pollinators. Be patient, my rule of thumb is, ‘ When the dandelions start to bloom, we can start tidying up our gardens.’
Usually by the time the dandelions start to bloom, the weeds try to take over. Here is an organic spray recipe for unwanted garden plants.
This was the perfect fit for us. We are a pesticide free honey producer and support the bees and pollinators by growing needed plants through our organic nursery. It is an integrated business where the nursery provides the much needed native, organic plants for the needs of the bees and the bees provide the pollination services for the nursery to continue.
When we discovered about Bee City, it sounded like a wonderful opportunity. We are so glad to be part of the Bee City family.
We’ve adjusted the nursery opening season date. It seems that spring is being a wee bit tardy! We will be performing our winter damage assessment on all our nursery stock the 2nd week of April and then we will fling open the doors by April 15th.
Be sure to contact us ahead of time as to when you would like to visit the nursery. Spring is always a rush between spring cleaning bee hives and emptying out the greenhouse.
We are continuing our farming for pollinators series. We have just posted the next article named feeding the pollinators. The hardest thing in any recovery or introduction program is that of integration. The articles are designed to fold into one another and integrating information from one subject to the next.
We are getting very excited in anticipating our land preparations for the upcoming beekeeping season. It will be a definitely different year where we will be caring for native and honeybees. Whatever we learn or amend we will post so that everyone can learn and share the experiences.
We are researching many articles and sources in order to best prepare for our upcoming spring project. While the world is focusing on the European honeybees in crisis, we are focusing on our wild native bee populations for Ontario. In one word I can sum up our bees. DIVERSE. Diverse in their appearances, diverse in their nesting requirements, diverse in their feeding and, basically, diverse in every way from one another. The one take home message is that there is no ‘ one fit solution for our native bees ‘.
Our project is multi faceted. Although we are an organic nursery and honey producer we want to go to the next level. We want to become Bee City certified and take the public with us on our journey. We must all learn and implement changes to protect our precious pollinators.
To see the full story on becoming nesting bee friendly follow the link.
So we have been reading endless articles on sustainable agriculture, agricultural cover crops, wildflower meadows, bee biology and leading bee trends. We realized that the backbone of any pollinator friendly program is to become organic. No spraying!
The first article in our series is that of becoming organic and why this is so important. We all need to work together to save our precious pollinators.