JJC helps save the bees

Edits have been made to this article.

Fear not, bee lovers – JJC is on the case.

Thanks to the Bayer Feed A Bee program, JJC is able to help out the bees and other pollinators (such as butterflies, moths, etc). They received a $1 thousand grant last fall and have since used that to put in a pollinator forage in the JJC landlab west of the greenhouse.

“It was an excellent opportunity for JJC to obtain funds to establish a pollinator habitat.  Something we need more of within the landlab and farm field area on campus,” says JJC Horticulture Professor Lisa Perkins.

Perkins and Dr. Fredric Miller, PhD entomologist and instructor from JJC, will also be engaged in the project to protect and bring back bees and other pollinators.

According to Becky Langer, project manager of the Bayer North American Bee Care Program, says if you are interested in receiving a Feed a Bee forage grant, you must go to FeedABee.com/impact and fill out the form. Afterwards, you will receive a link to the application along with a detailed Request for Proposals (RFP). 

Perkins herself came across the grant opportunity online and worked exclusively with JJC’s Grant writer Kate Coughlin on writing the grant. She provided information to the program, such as why they needed a larger pollinator habitat, how they could provide care for the environment, and where they would plant.

Langer says that JJC’s application for a forage grant included the plans to develop a pollinator “forage zone” that would not only help feed the college’s six beehives, but would also act as a demonstration garden for their horticulture program.  

“While the Feed A Bee Steering Committee chooses projects that have plans to establish  or restore pollinator habitat and forage, we prefer to fund those projects that also incorporate an educational component that will promote pollinator health to those outside the organization. JJC’s grant application demonstrated that education would be a priority,” Langer says.

JJC established the six beehives over three years ago, and plan to install more in the future.

In order to bring education and raise importance and awareness of pollinator health, the garden would be used for long-term education of pollinator health and creating diverse ecosystems.

But this program will not be fast. It is a three-year process, with the plot being sown just this past summer. The first year will begin with controlling the existing vegetation, lightly till the ground to prepare for planting, irrigate water, planting the seeds, and more. The second and third year will consist of controlling the non-native invasive species, irrigating water and trimming plants.

By doing this, Perkins says that they hope to establish native plants (such as perennials) to provide food throughout the season for bees and other pollinators. Students and the community will be able to use the site for education.

The project will also cut down on JJC being required to mow large parts of the landlab, which is harmful to the environment, and will result in using less resources such as water and time.

Perkins says that by not moving, it is a “great labor and energy saver for the landlab.”

Located west of the JJC greenhouse, the landlab serves as an outdoor learning lab for horticulture students and anyone else in the community who is interested.

The landlab is where landscape students do construction and landscaping projects, vegetables for the JJC CSA are grown, [is the] site of 500 grapevines, an agroforestry plot and six beehives,” says Perkins.

The college consists of multiple natural spaces, the landlab, the arboretum, and farmed crops. These are all used to benefit student and community learning. Currently, the college grounds themselves range from multiple acres of mowed turf, an oak forest, and 140 acres of land cropped in soybeans and corn.

It may be questioned why the bees are in such dire need of our help. Even though there are other pollinators in the world, bees are the most effective pollinators according to the website Friends of the Earth. They say that bees visit many more flowers and plants and carry more pollen, making them the most effective pollinators in the world.

We need bees. That’s for sure. They are the key to the diets that we all know and love today, and keep the cycle of life turning for everyone. We rely on pollination for much of our food that we eat everyday.

“Bees, native and honey bees are important pollinators. Other insects are as well. Maintaining their populations is important for fruit, vegetable and seed production,” Perkins says.

Honeybees are currently in danger of going extinct. This is due to multiple reasons, such as a loss of their habitats and pesticides. According to the Feed A Bee website, the honeybees specifically play an important role of pollinating our fruits, nuts and vegetables, and we should all do our part to help them thrive.

“Honeybees are vital to our agriculture system. They help provide an important service by pollinating many of the foods – like almonds and avocados – that we eat everyday. In fact, bees pollinate more than $15 billion worth of crops a year in the United States along,” Langer says.

Being important pollinators of campus crops, as well as being extensive tools for learning for students and the community, the honeybees are vital.

JJC offers beekeeper workshops throughout the year to encourage people to care more about the beehives.  They believe that honeybees are extremely important, and they are essential to improve agronomic practices in order for there to be enough food for the earth.

Perkins encourages students that are interested in working outdoors and who love to work with plants to seek out JJC’s horticulture program. It is a broad program, including landscape, construction, arboriculture, floriculture, fruit and vegetable farming, sports turf management, and even more.

“It is a sustainable and hands-on field of study that impacts everyone,” Perkins acknowledges.

Three billion wildflowers have been planted since 2015 by the Feed A Bee program. Just last year, Bayer Bee Care Program initiated a 50-state forage initiative, resulting in them now almost reaching their goal, involving 49 states and Washington D.C. currently. Langer says they are looking to fund an organizations pollinator project in Alaska currently.

Multiple bee hives are operating on JJC’s campus next to the greenhouse. Photo by Jessica Mack.

 

Jessica Mack

Co-Editor in Chief at JJC Blazer
Jessica took the role of Co-Editor along with Sean O'Dell in fall 2018. She is planning to graduate in spring of 2019 and transfer to Depaul University where she plans to major in English.

Jessica has always had a love for writing and editing.

Latest posts by Jessica Mack (see all)

Jessica Mack

Jessica took the role of Co-Editor along with Sean O'Dell in fall 2018. She is planning to graduate in spring of 2019 and transfer to Depaul University where she plans to major in English. Jessica has always had a love for writing and editing.