More bees, please

Urban farming has taken root in Minneapolis. Under the Urban Agriculture Ordinance approved by the city in April, citizens can grow crops in hoop-houses, fish farm (using aquaculture and aquaponics), and compost in greater amounts. All of this helps bring local food to more people, and improve the livelihood of urban farmers. However, there remains a crisis with one of our most crucial food producers-bees.

Bees have been losing the battle for their native habitats for years, and this in combination with Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), has led a huge decrease in the bee population (both wild and domestic bees.)

Bees are known as “pollinators” and help 70% of the world’s flowering plants reproduce. Without bees, crops such as cranberries, blueberries, apples, tomatoes, and wildflowers suffer greatly. According to the DNR, Minnesota has 12-13 different species of bees, and at least three of those are in serious decline. 

Luckily, cities around Minnesota (including both Minneapolis and St. Paul) are signing ordinances to legalize beekeeping within city limits. Minneapolis has allowed beekeeping since 2009, and in April 2012, 41 permits for beekeeping were approved. This type of hobby beekeeping is known as “urban apiculture,” and is becoming popular.

One example of the growing interest in apiculture is an urban beekeeping program based out of Minneapolis called Community Bees on Bikes.  Their focus is to partner with different schools or community programs to teach people why bees are so important to our ecosystem and the best beekeeping practices. Community Bees on Bikes creates and maintains honeybee hives in different community areas around Minneapolis to help increase sustainable bee populations.

Bees are a good indicator of a habitat’s health, and solely increasing the size of the bee population will not improve Minnesota habitats in the long run. Increasing and sustaining the population of these pollinators through better habitat protection and less stressful conditions will keep bees around in our state to continue helping our flowering plants reproduce.

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