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52 Weeks Fresh: Feed the Bees, Feed Yourself

Bee populations are down significantly across the country and the world. Though the primary cause of Colony Collapse Disorder is still being debated, many experts believe pesticides, foreign parasites and other pathogens are the culprits. Busy pollinators, bees — especially honeybees — are crucial to our fruit and vegetable supplies. One way to strengthen bee colonies is to plant food sources for them.

Start with perennials, which are often deer- and rabbit-resistant, requiring little maintenance and providing long blooms for the bees with years of seasonal returns. Plant them in front of your vegetable garden to lure the bees. Black-eyed Susans, bee balm and St. John’s wort are particularly good options. Bees will be abundant — and so will your produce yield.

PRODUCE REPORT: It’s time to plant seeds for fall crops like beets and carrots. Plant lettuce seeds until early August; baby greens are a treat in late-season salads.

EAT WITH THE SEASON: For a simple roasted-beet salad using the grill, remove the leaves, slice beets in half with skin on and seal them in a foil envelope with a drizzle of olive oil, a few garlic cloves, salt and pepper. Place the foil directly on the coals. Fork test for tenderness in 20 minutes. Remove from heat and serve over a salad made from the leaves with vinaigrette. Chuck has an easy faux-roasted alternative.

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Comments (19)

  1. elle posted 07/25/2014

    Love the idea of roasting beets! And with the skin on. Makes it so easy. Great info about the bees and their food sources!

  2. Michael Weinberg posted 07/25/2014

    It's such a good idea knowing that we can make the bees come to us and that we can support their populations in a way that benefits us and the bees!

  3. [...] EAT WITH THE SEASON: For a simple roasted-beet salad using the grill, remove the leaves, slice beets in half with skin on and seal them in a foil envelope with a drizzle of olive oil, a few garlic cloves, salt and pepper. Place the foil directly on the coals. …read more [...]

  4. Elyse posted 07/26/2014

    Michael, would you happen to know any bee loving perennials for wetlands with deer? I'd love to do some planting down there.

    • Michael posted 07/26/2014

      Yes! Joe Pye Weed. It will grow in wet areas and is deer resistant. Some varieties can be very tall (well over six feet). Blooms are typically pink and in clusters. It naturalizes nicely and looks great with tall grasses.

  5. JSN posted 07/26/2014

    Also, slice them, coat them in canola, sunflower or safflower oil, sprinkle with a mixture of Salt, Pepper, a pinch of sugar and grill

  6. linda posted 07/26/2014

    i drove past your garden the other day. it is AMAZING!!!
    never thought about beets on the grill. love them. will
    grill next time. thanks!!

  7. Nevine michaan posted 07/27/2014

    I love the reminder to start planting my fall crops.

  8. Don Denne posted 07/27/2014

    Save the BEES!! I was particularly heartened by this post. Recently I stayed at a resort outside of Chicago and was pleased to discover the restaurant not only had their own garden for produce, but a large bee colony near it – all on the banks of the Des Plaines river. Off to the Farmer's Market to find BEETS!

  9. digs posted 07/28/2014

    so beautiful, michael.

  10. Patty B posted 07/28/2014

    Beautiful to look at and informative to read ! Enjoying sharing too ~ x0x

  11. Cristin posted 07/28/2014

    We just planted some more black eyed susans, and we have a bunch of very happy bumble bees! They seem to love Jim's flower garden….as do the rabbits, lol.

  12. Bonnie posted 07/29/2014

    Thanks for the reminder to replant. I will do it this week.

  13. Russell posted 07/30/2014

    Not a fan of beets, but I'll try them on the grill…you make them sound enticing

  14. Jayni Chase posted 07/31/2014

    And we all need to STOP using chemicals in our gardens! There is now proof that neonicotinoids are contributing to the decline in bee populations. The neonicotinoid imidacloprid is currently the most widely used insecticide in the world. The neonicotinoid family includes acetamiprid, clothianidin, imidacloprid, nitenpyram, nithiazine, thiacloprid and thiamethoxam. Health Canada has also linked the pesticide to the colony collapses and Canada is beginning to restrict its use. The pesticide is applied to the seeds of crops like wheat, corn and soybeans to protect them from pest damage so we have to be VERY careful about the seeds we plant!

  15. L Dugan posted 08/04/2014

    Michael,
    Can you address the other beneficials that visit our gardens too? I was thinking of Ladybugs or Lady Beetles. Should we buy them to inhibit the aphid population?
    Thanks for the beet recipe!

  16. Michael posted 08/05/2014

    There are many beneficials which can be purchased and included in the garden ecosystem. Ladybugs and Praying Mantis both like aphids. Parasitic nematodes are good against grubs/larvae as well as Japanese beetles (and more). Orchard Mason Bees are excellent pollinators and can live in simple tube structures and holes in wood (not producing honey). Keep in mind, there are some limits with buying beneficials— time of year for introduction to the garden is critical for success and there are also some state-by-state restrictions on what can be shipped.

  17. sandra posted 08/06/2014

    so easy to forget to replant and plant for the fall. thank you for the reminder.
    sandra

  18. Matt posted 08/16/2014

    We just planted Black-eye Susans in the back yard this year. They look wonderful. We are trying to get the kids use to the bees that are coming around, without screaming in terror.

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