Contributed by Marie Ingegneri, Marketing Coordinator

With the approach of National Honey Bee Day on August 19, Morris Arboretum reflects on the importance of bees to the garden. 

More than 12,000 labeled plants in the Arboretum’s living collection are pollinated by bees.  Not only do bees pollinate the majority of plants world-wide, but about one-third of an individual’s daily diet as well. In fact, a sizable percentage of edible harvests require a visit from bees to form fruits, nuts, seeds for vegetables, and other crops.  And this yield often nourishes the next level in the food chain such as livestock, which produces or becomes another staple for human consumption.

Since bees are so vital to the return and quality of crops, farmers often set up hives close to their fields to ensure pollination. At the Arboretum, 26 hives are stationed at Bloomfield Farm for just this reason.  Jim Bobb, the Arboretum’s beekeeper, owns and manages these hives for plant pollination and honey production.

The garden’s honey, Morris Gold, is harvested and bottled in the spring by Bobb and a community of beekeepers, and sold in The Shop. The average honey surplus in Pennsylvania, is 30-45 pounds per hive, but the Arboretum’s final product is less due to the many challenges in maintaining bee health.

The Arboretum’s type of honey is known as wild-flower.  It has a light and floriferous taste, since bees collect nectar and pollen from a variety of plants in a one to two mile radius.  In other states, for example, Florida and California, where there are huge farms of one crop and bees visit only one type of flower, the honey has the flavor of that plant, such as orange blossom or clover. 

Education is large part of the Arboretum mission, and Jim Bobb and his bees are involved in many hands-on outreach programs to local schools. Summer Adventure campers (pictured above) also engage with Jim to learn more about the roles of flowers, nectar and worker bees in the honey-making process.

Interested in setting-up a hive on your rooftop or in your backyard? Morris Arboretum is offering a Bee Keeping 101 class on September 23.  Learn all the how-to’s about this fascinating hobby and enjoy the many sweet rewards of your efforts.