Columbia Star

1963        Celebrating 60 Years      2023

Three for the Bees

Stopping to smell the flowers



Columbia Green hosted an educational event Saturday, March 25 at the Pollinator Garden in the Marvin Heller Community Garden in the Lyon Street neighborhood off Gervais Street. Jennifer Mancke, Green Steps School mentor with the Richland County Soil and Water Conservation District, presented a program entitled Three for the Bees on the vital role of pollinators to the human and wildlife food supply of fruits, flowers, vegetables, and seeds.

Mancke asked audience children, “ What is your favorite pollinator?” She used their answers to outline and illustrate the role of bees (native and non-native), wasps, butterflies, skippers, moths, flies, beetles, mosquitoes, and hummingbirds in pollinating plants. “Why do we need bees?” Children responded—“for honey,” “flowers,” and “food.” One in every three bites of food humans eat comes from plants pollinated by honeybees. Put another way, one-third of pollination is done by one species of bee, the non-native European honeybee which came to North America via European colonists in the 1600s.

Parents and children planted miniature container pollinator gardens to tote home.

Parents and children planted miniature container pollinator gardens to tote home.

Pollinators don’t intentionally gather pollen to promote plant reproduction. Bees, the most important group of pollinators, deliberately gather pollen to bring back to their nests for their offspring. Bees are hairy insects and their hairiness makes them effective pollinators.

Beekeepers transport colonies of honeybees across the country for agriculture, e.g. almond trees in California and blueberries, apples, cucumbers, and watermelon in Georgia. The USDA considers commercial honeybees to be livestock due to their crucial role in food production.

Pollination, once taken for granted by everyone, can no longer be expected. Pollinator decline is a serious environmental issue, and gardeners and farmers across the globe are discovering it firsthand.

To bring pollinator awareness to family home gardens, each child was given a pot, soil, and three different flowers—yellow coreopsis, red salvia, and blue lithodora—to create a miniature pollinator garden to tote home. Beekeepers consider all coreopsis species to be good honey sources. Red salvia has nectar-rich flowers attracting bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Lithodora is an easy to grow evergreen, disease resistant perennial with vibrant blue star-shaped flowers.



Mancke reminded children to water plants in the morning and at the root zone, not on the leaves to prevent mold. She recommended refraining from cutting back the stems in fall since many native bees overwinter in plant stems.

Children were given a care sheet for the trio stating: put the pot in a sunlit spot outdoors, check every few days to see if the plants need water, do not spray pesticides on yourself, enjoy watching bees come to collect pollen, and keep checking on plants all summer. Bees thank you for being their friend.

Add Three for the Bees activity to your family’s Easter Egg Hunt in April.

Girl Scout troops 810 AND 785 planted Three for the Bees.

Girl Scout troops 810 AND 785 planted Three for the Bees.

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