MAA NEWS MAA NEWS Grows Edition 2017_w - Page 10

Out of Sight, Out of Mind, Out of Pocket. by Noah Wilson-Rich, Ph.D. What are the four elements that make for successful horticul- ture? The first three are obvious to anyone who designs, plants or grows: sun, water and nutrients. But the fourth? Could it be hard work or TLC? Yes, those play an important role, but there’s one crucial element that’s often taken completely for granted: bees. Without bees, much of what we grow would never be pollinated. We’d have no fruits, no nuts, and very few vegetables. Our seed stock would collapse. Nutritious food would disappear. And every horticultural business would suffer. Until the emergence of Colony Collapse disorder, it was easy for everyone in this industry to ignore the health of bees. We can’t anymore. As people whose livelihoods depend on the health of the natural world (environments we create), we all need to care. If we don’t, our businesses, like the bee colonies we depend on, could collapse as well. I hope that got your attention. Fortunately, it’s not all doom and gloom. We’re learning a lot about what negatively impacts bee health – pesticides, disease, insects--and how we can mitigate these factors. Using this initial data, well monitored and well cared for beehives are making a comeback. But we’re not out of the woods yet – 44% of U.S. honeybee beehives perish annually. That means each spring, we start with only about half the honey- bees we need. Existing beekeepers are in a constant battle to catch up. The short-term solution is simple: we need more bees, and we need more beekeepers. Long-term, we need better answers to how to stop this terrible problem. That’s where your business can help. Growing organic herbs, fruits or vegetables? You have the ideal environment for honey- bees. Operate a nursery or garden center? Customers who know and care about the plight of bees will applaud you for pitching in and being part of the solution. Even design firms can partici- pate – commercial building roofs can be surprisingly safe and effective environments for beehives and pollinator habitats. If you’re not already keeping bees, think about hosting beehives – you don’t even have to tend them, someone else can do that for you. That’s where organizations like The Best Bees Company come in. We care for over 553 beehives in 394 locations in New England alone. Our professional beekeepers set up bee- hives, and service them throughout the growing season. With careful observation, we’re able to address the needs of individual colonies, improving their chance for survival. As part of our mis- sion to expand healthy bee populations, we operate a 501(c)3 non-profit, the Urban Beekeeping Laboratory and Bee Sanctuary, which uses our beekeeping operations to conduct research on beehive health. Monitoring thousands of beehives gives us invaluable data on local conditions and how to address them. By working with bees, you’ll help to save them and the environ- ment of New England. In the long run, that will be very good for your business. If you’d like to learn more about the role of bees in our industry, and what you can do to help, please attend Noah’s session at New England GROWS on Thursday, November 30, 2017: The Power of Nature: Our Future with Bees. Noah Wilson-Rich Founding Partner, The Best Bees Company Future Leaders’ Sponsorship helps workforce development GROWS is the best place for students to explore the possibilities and potential available to them in our growing industry. Hundreds of students attend educational sessions, dig into special interest areas with live demos, check out work-study and internship opportunities and participate in the Future Leader of the Year essay contest. Industry sponsors serve as Future Leader Ambassadors during the conference. Special badge decals indicate that they are available to spend one-on-one time with students and provide additional information about careers in the green industry. Display tables for sponsors are provided at the daily Future Leaders orientation session. A limited number of sponsorship opportunities are still available. The $600 sponsorship fee helps defray the cost of program promotion, meeting room rental, A/V equipment, lunch vouchers, and prizes. For more information on the benefits of sponsorship, please contact Janet Walsh via e-mail at or by phone at (508) 653-3009. 10 MAA NEWS / GROWS Edition 2017