PLENTY SUMMER 2020 | Page 24

60 percent, or worse. In fact, this In the meantime, there are year David Reece, whose family has folks in the Reserve, like Jack Price, been in the beekeeping business working to protect its pollinators. Jack, a lifelong resident and for over 140 years, lost 23 out of 25 hives in a single Ag Res orchard. owner of Habitat Enhancers, has Considering that a beehive can been teaching property owners house between 60,000 to 100,000 for years that small efforts—like bees, it means the seasonal loss planting pockets of pollinator was as great as 2,300,000, an habitat into their landscape—create positive long-term results. eye-popping number. The most likely culprit for the damage is a For example, a native wildflower dreaded varroa mite. Beekeepers landscape he installed in 2004, is do have several tools in their mitefighting toolbox, but none has populations ranging from bees to currently showing growth in wild been completely successful. There bears. Recently, unidentified butterflies have even been discovered is hope, though, with the introduction into hives of a genetically bred in his plantings! bee called the mite-biter. This bee Five years ago, Jack participated in a national roundtable dis- chews off the legs of mites as part of its hygiene habit thereby disabling them from clinging to a host pesticide companies, and environcussion with farmers, beekeepers, bee. Time will tell if this methodology can help save honeybee population. He walked away conmentalists about the declining bee populations. vinced that efforts to help solve Jack Price of Habitat Enhancers plants gardens that attract pollinators. Photo: Jack Price the problem don’t have to be earth shattering. Growing milkweed by roadsides instead of turf, allowing dandelions to thrive naturally, allowing fencerows to remain wild, retaining underbrush and deadwood for habitat, and not mowing tall grasses, will positively impact the environment without creating a huge or costly upheaval. Jack stresses that people living in the Ag Res must be sensitive to the needs of its farmers. By knowing that one’s choice of landscaping products affects farmers’ hives down the road, or that residential nighttime lights impair the work of nocturnal pollinators, homeowners can take consistent, small, conscious actions and be part of the solution, not the problem. And after decades in the trenches on the topic, Jack discovered that the best evidence of a thriving environment is not a perfectly manicured lawn, but rather a riot of diverse flora, and the occasional dead tree, teaming with life. Other advocates attack pollinator threats through education. Joe Long of HoneyFX Apiaries and Greenhouse Effects Landscaping (made famous by his honey battle with the “Poolesville Bear”) and Poolesville High School Global Magnet physics teacher Dan Savino work with grants awarded by the Sugarloaf Citizens Association and the Piedmont Environmental Education Foundation to teach children at Linden Farm about caring for honeybees with apiaries and native wild bees with natural plantings. Also on the frontline are local farmers who seek an ecological middle ground between crops and the environment. Subscribing to the ethical business model of 24 plenty I Summer growing 2020