This year’s National Pollinator Week is from June 15- June 21. The annual event is to celebrate the importance of pollinators that are essential to our ecosystem, and the individuals who fight to save them.
In Colorado there has been quite a buzz about beekeeping. It’s no longer a hidden craft unknown and unseen to the public; its only evidence visible through plastic honey bears lining the grocery store shelves. Recently, there has been a renaissance in urban beekeeping on the Front Range, and new hobbyists are learning the ancient art of hive tending. This movement is not only producing locally sourced liquid gold, but is also saving the hardworking honeybees from environmental dangers that could be detrimental to American crops.
Pontus Jakobsson, owner of Bjorn’s Colorado Honey in Boulder, is a third generation beekeeper. He brought along his immense knowledge of bees when he moved to the United States from Sweden in 2013. Shortly after moving to Boulder, he started producing local Front Range honey.
His grandfather, Bjorn, started successful apiaries in Sweden 70 years ago. He grew up around bees and learned this unique craft by helping his grandfather with his apiaries, which were eventually taken over by Jakobsson’s parents, Torbjorn and Monica Jakobsson. Considering he has been around bees for the past 22 years, he is the perfect educator and supporter for new local bee enthusiasts.
“It’s amazing the explosion of beekeeping in Colorado. There are so many young people that have an interest in beekeeping and they are very educated about bees’ health,” says Jakobsson. “Growing up in Sweden it was the older generations that were interested in bees, and today I have 10-15 year olds coming up to me who know so much about bees.”
It’s an encouraging sign that younger generations are rallying for the under-appreciated pollinators ever since colony collapse disorder was first classified in 2006. Colony collapse disorder is the phenomenon when the majority of worker bees abandon their hive, which is a serious concern for U.S. agriculture.
“With colony collapse disorder it looks like a good hive, but a week afterwards they just leave which is something that we have never seen happen with other diseases,” Jakobsson says.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, bees pollinate 80 percent of flowering crops, which is about one-third of our food source. Without honeybees, say goodbye to some of your favorite fruits and vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus, blueberries and cherries to name a few. And of course flowering gardens and honey’s gooey goodness will be something of the past here in the States.
“Last year the average loss of beehives was 35 percent and this year it increased to 45 percent. They leave everything behind; the larvae, the honey, the pollen and the queen. The bees are just gone,” says Jakobsson.
This is something that has been baffling scientists who are desperately searching for the mysterious cause of colony collapse disorder. Most fingers point to everyday pesticides, but whatever the cause is, it’s time to start coming up with solutions.
Support the Busy Bee
The best way that individuals in the community can help is by simply supporting local beekeepers. Purchase locally crafted bee products that are available at stores and farmer markets. Honey is the perfect natural sweetener for food and drinks, and can be used in other beneficial ways.
“Honey itself is one of the best moisturizers for lotions. Honey is also a natural antiseptic because of the high sugar content. It works like Neosporin for cuts, wounds and cracked fingers,” says Jakobsson who also sells BeeCareNatura, a line of natural European skin care products.
And for allergies, honey can be your homeopathic solution to seasonal suffering. Native honey is full ofMarketing Manager Katie Lazor says, âSeeds Library Cafe is an exciting collaboration between the Boulder County Farmers Markets non-profit and the Main Boulder Public Library. We are a year-round cafÃ© focused on local agriculture, with a commitment to connect people with their food and drink through local sourcing, educationÂ and events. Weâre a voice for local agriculture, a reflection of our unique community, and a meeting place for collaboration.â enzymes and pollen that desensitizes your system to local allergies, and it doesn’t cause any drowsiness like typical allergy medicines.
If you are interested in joining the club and are considering beekeeping, there are plenty of resources to get you started, including classes, workshops, lectures and a whole community to network with. Since Denver city council passed an ordinance in 2008 allowing up to two hives per lot, plenty of families and individuals are discovering the rewarding benefits of working with bees. Including Toby Odell and Tess Dougherty who took care of their first hive in the backyard of their Denver home last April.
“Bees are really fascinating species and they can teach us a lot about the world in general. Just observing them and their patterns, behaviors and how they communicate with each other are some of the most fun parts, and is something that the two of us didn’t know about before so it’s a huge learning experience,” says Tess Dougherty.
Just make sure you do a solid amount of research before becoming a bee caretaker because it’s more than just tending a hive, beekeeping comes with the same amount of responsibility as bringing a new pet into the home.
“They will always be my pets. We care for them and make sure they have a good life,” says Jakobsson. “Every time you look into a beehive they are all different. To really make sure they are healthy and happy you have to find every single beehives special needs.”