The Kreher Preserve and Nature Center, an outreach program of Auburn University’s School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, recently hosted Honey Bees!, its third program in the annual series, Science on Saturdays, on July 25th at the nature center.
Mr. Raleigh Jones, former president of the Saugahatchee Beekeepers Association, with several other area bee keepers and preserve staff, presented a fascinating overview of honey bees and bee keeping. Donning beekeeping protective clothing, Mr. Jones followed up the program with a hike to the preserve’s honey bee demonstration area where he showed the crowd of fifty the inner workings of a bee hive. Attendees were able to sample honey from the Kreher Preserve hives and products made with locally harvested honey were available for sale.
Jennifer Lolley, nature center administrator, shared this quote from the USDA-ARS website to illustrate why honey bees are so important to our ecosystems and food production. “Bee pollination is responsible for more than $15 billion in increased crop value each year. About one mouthful in three in our diet directly or indirectly benefits from honey bee pollination.” Statistics estimate the total number of managed honey bee colonies has decreased from 5 million in the 1940s to only 2.5 million today.
In addition to the preserve’s honey bee demonstration area and annual programs like Science on Saturdays, the KPNC regularly teaches a program called What’s the Buzz about Bees and Pollination to approximately 1,000 area students each year. Lolley states, “It is vital for food production and our environment, that we understand the impacts of our landscaping and gardening practices and how they can support the honey bee or contribute to its decline.”