Sturgeon Bay, Wis. (August 16, 2022) – This week, Crossroads hosts the “Community Honey Harvest,” which, without a doubt, is the sweetest event of the year. On Saturday, August 22, from 9:00-11:00 a.m., the Door County Beekeepers Club will share the fascinating world of honeybees through hands-on interactive activities and demonstrations for all ages, expanding people’s understanding of honeybees, their role in our environment, and the importance of protecting them. This event offered with support from Crossroads at Big Creek, Wisconsin Master Gardeners, Wild Ones, and the Door County Seed Library.
At this free event, various educational stations in and outside the Collins Learning Center will interest participants of all ages. One of the stations will offer a close view of honeybees tending their brood through the glass window of an observation hive. Visitors will be able to taste honey, pick up free pollinator seeds and Honey Harvest game cards at the welcome table. A demonstration of dipping hot wax candles will take place inside the building.
Honey extraction demonstrations will take place from 9:30-10:00 and 10:30-11:00 a.m. Honey extraction is the process of removing honey from the honeycomb of a conventional Langstroth (stacked box) hive and a direct flow hive. Traditional extractions will be done indoors, away from the bees. Guests also will have the opportunity to make beeswax wraps, rolled wax candles, and view a demonstration of dipping hot wax candles.
In the children’s tent, kids can pet a live drone (male) honeybee and explore beekeeper tools and hive boxes, among other activities.
New this year is “Shop the Hive,” a resale table of new and gently used bee-related items, from honey to shirts to soap. All proceeds will be contributed to the Wisconsin Honey Producers program for youth beekeeping scholarships. All events will occur rain or shine. Questions can be directed to the Door County Beekeepers Club at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Tuesday, August 23, at 6:30 pm, Crossroads will offer a “Talk and Walk,” featuring the native wildflowers of the Meadow. On Thursday, August 25, also at 6:30 p.m., join Program Director Corey Batson for “Putting Pressure on Invasive Species,” a workshop on pressing non-native yet beautiful flowers.
With Crossroads so deeply involved in restoration of native species and offering programs on native and non-native species, one has to wonder: do domestic honeybees, which are from Europe, prefer native or non-native flowers?
The truth is, they don’t seem to care. Native? Introduced? If a blossom has nectar and/or pollen, honeybees will visit it IF it offers a place to land (honeybees can’t hover), IF they locate it (honeybees do not see colors at the red end of the spectrum), and IF the petals are not too complicated.
Many non-native and hybridized flowers planted in gardens don’t meet these simple requirements. Plant breeders often attempt to create flowers with unusual colors or patterns. Sometimes, in hybridizing flowers, they inadvertently breed out pollen or nectar. Bees will not visit flowers without these “rewards.”
Breeders and gardeners seem especially fond of hybrids or cultivars called “doubles”—showy ornamental flowers with dense heads of petals, but with no visible stamens and often without nectar or pollen. But even if they have nectar and pollen, blossoms with lots and lots of petals fail to attract bees. Just too much work. It’s inefficient to mess around with doubles, so honeybees don’t.
Native wildflowers are important to honeybees and to our wild native bees. Admittedly, some wild bees are generalists, but many native bees will visit only one or two species of native wildflowers. Because we want diversity in our wild native bees, we absolutely must have a diverse selection of native wildflowers growing at Crossroads. And vice versa. If we want diverse habitats made up of native wildflowers, we depend on the native wild bees to pollinate them.
Native wildflowers are good for the domestic honeybees that live at Crossroads and very good –essential – for the native bees.
Crossroads at Big Creek Learning Center and Nature Preserve is located at 2041 Michigan. Crossroads is a 501(c)3 organization committed to offering education, conducting research and restoration, and providing outdoor experiences to inspire environmental stewardship in learners of all ages and from all backgrounds. We welcome your support! Become a member of Crossroads by mailing a contribution to P.O. Box 608, Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235, or donate online at crossroadsatbigcreek.org