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  • Jen McGivney

4 Ways You Can Help the Bees This Summer

Gaston County is becoming one of the country’s most bee-friendly counties. Want to help? We’ve got ideas.

North Carolina has more Bee Cities USA than any other state, and two are here in Gaston County: Mount Holly and Gastonia. Both cities have pledged to raise awareness about the vital role that bees and other pollinators play in our environment and our economy, and they’ve committed to practices that create sustainable habitats.

Gaston County isn’t stopping there, however. Belmont and Bessemer City are working toward Bee City USA designations as well. Burton Beasley, the aptly named president of the Gaston County Beekeepers Association, hopes that Gaston County will go on to become the first Bee County USA.

Why Bees (and Other Pollinators) Are So Important

Healthy bees mean healthy plants. Healthy plants mean healthy foods, healthy people, healthy ecosystems, and even healthy bottom lines. Bee pollination contributes about $15 billion annually to the U.S. farming industry. In Gaston County, the impacts of creating sustainable bee habitats are felt close to home: in local businesses that offer sustainable landscaping and lawncare, and in restaurants and markets that rely upon local crops.

“[Bees] have become a major point in the farm to table movement, knowing where our food comes from and the important role that pollinators play in the production of many of the foods we enjoy each day,” Beasley says.

Gaston County Beekeepers Association
Members of the Gaston County Beekeepers Association

How You Can Help the Bees

A bee-friendly county requires lots of help, however. What can you do to contribute to Gaston County’s reputation as a bee-friendly county? We’ve got ideas.

As you prepare your lawn and garden for summer, Beasley offers tips to help you to help the bees:

1. Grow pollinator plants. Plant a mix of wildflowers to create a bee-friendly habitat in your yard. In addition, Beasley recommends flowering herbs like purple basil, lavender, rosemary, coneflowers, and—of course—bee balm. A bonus? These flowers also attract other pollinators like butterflies and hummingbirds.

2. Limit the use of pesticides and herbicides. If you must use pest control, find natural and organic alternatives, and spray at night when pollinators are less active. Or instead of treatment, try prevention: to minimize mosquitos, limit standing water, trim high grass, and treat bird bath water with BT (bacillus thuringiensis); to protect your garden from pests, bring ladybugs in to do the job.

3. Make friends with the bees. March through June is swarm season. If you find a swarm, contact a beekeeper who can help you relocate honeybees from your property safely.

4. Find your hive. The Gaston County Beekeepers Association has more than 200 members, and it offers educational events open to the community. It also offers a bee school several times a year for people who are interested in keeping their own honeybees or even just to learn a little more about them. Connect with GCBA on Facebook to learn more.

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