UGA bee expert chosen for British Empire honor
by Louise Estabrook
February 27, 2014 11:47 PM | 871 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Keith Delaplane, professor of entomology in the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, has been inducted into the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in recognition of his research into honeybees and their disappearance.

British Ambassador to the United States Sir Peter Westmacott presented Delaplane with the honor on behalf of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on Feb. 11 at the British Embassy in Washington D.C.

Induction into the Order of the British Empire is bestowed by the British monarchy on individuals who have demonstrated distinguished service to the arts and sciences and public services. Because Delaplane is not British, he received an honorary induction, reserved for non-British nationals who have made significant contributions to British interests.

Delaplane’s work, both at UGA and while working in Britain, has focused on honeybee health, preserving the dwindling population of honeybees and working to decipher the mystery of colony collapse disorder. In Georgia, he conducts a series of regional beekeeping and pollinator protection workshops and directs the UGA Honey Bee Program.

Professor Delaplane’s educational efforts are helping bees both nationally and globally. While most of us can’t reach that wide of an audience, there is much we can do, literally, in our own backyards. We don’t even have to be scientific researchers!

Use pesticides only when urgently needed. Follow all labels carefully. If you must use pesticides, spray during the evening after most bee activity has quieted down for the day.

Plant lots of flowers that bees enjoy. Choose plants with a diversity of colors, shapes and sizes. Some native pollinators are attracted to flowers of certain colors or shapes. A wide variety of colors and shapes will attract more pollinators and encourage them to make your garden their home.

A wide swath of colorful flowers is better than a few flowers interspersed here and there. It makes it easier for the bees to locate their favorites!

Use local native plants when possible. Native plants and native pollinators go together. The pollinators need the plants for their preferred food, nesting or egg-laying sites. In fact, certain pollinators cannot survive without a specific native plant that they or their young feed on.

Include a variety of flowers that bloom throughout the season. In early spring, food may be scarce for native pollinators. Provide some plants that bloom in the early spring, some that bloom in the summer and others that bloom into the late fall. This will allow many different pollinators to find something they need in your garden throughout the growing season.

Provide water. Pollinators such as butterflies will gather and sip at shallow pools, mud puddles, shallow bird baths and saucers filled with water. Adult male butterflies will gather to suck mineral salts from the mud puddles. Bees and wasps will use the mud as building material. Insects need only shallow water, so a deep bird bath or pool is not as useful. Locate a large rock with a slight indentation in it. Keep this “bee bowl” filled with water, wet sand or even mud.

My favorite pollinator plants? Liatris, lantana, parsley, dill, lemon balm, Joe-Pye weed and Vitex trees!

Liatris, called Blazing Star, is a spiky, sword like flower. It blazes in lavender, pink or white. Its’ attractive blossoms are a veritable bee beacon. Lantana is another easy favorite. Hardy and drought-tolerant, lantana is covered with orange, yellow and pink flowers from summer through the fall. The flowers, in turn, are covered with bees and butterflies!

Joe-Pye weed is a Georgia native. It is taller than my other favorites — four to six feet of bushy green leaves topped with dusky pink flowers. Its height makes it very useful in the back of a flower border. Although the flowers are quiet, they draw quite a crowd of pollinators.

Parsley, dill and lemon balm are three easy, low-maintenance herbs to include in your garden. They are useful for their culinary prowess and especially attractive to bees.

Vitex agnus-castus, the Chaste tree, is a small, drought-tolerant tree. It is easy to grow and one of the few flowering beauties that deer won’t touch. The flowers are beautiful spikes of lavenders, purples or white and it will be alive with buzzing and dancing pollinators.

This year, do your part to apply Keith Delaplane’s research. Plant a garden with the bees in mind.

Information about Extension Solutions for Homes and Gardens can be found on the UGA extension website, www.caes.uga.edu/extension/cherokee ; or contact the Cherokee County Extension Office, 1130 Bluffs Parkway, Suite G49, Canton, GA, 30114, 770-721-7803. The Georgia Master Gardener Extension Volunteer Program is a volunteer training program offered through county offices of the UGA extension. Follow Cherokee County Master Gardeners on facebook at www.facebook.com/cherokeemastergardeners for gardening tips as well as upcoming seminars.

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