Purdue professors advocate for bee-friendly gardens

Purdue University's Bee Lab hosted a field day to teach the basics of beekeeping. (WLFI Photo)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Purdue University professors are urging the public to open up their gardens to bees.

When you see a bee, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? For many people, it’s the fear of being stung.

But Purdue assistant professor Melinda Appold said they’re not out to hurt you.

“They don’t want to sting you, especially when they’re foraging. They don’t really have an interest in stinging you,” Appold said.

Appold and others want people to open their own gardens to bees because they’re responsible for assisting in the pollination process for some plants.

Ultimately, this puts food on our tables.

Appold said pest-resistant plants were popular for some time.

“They wanted to kind of breed out the nectar part of it because that’s what attracted to the insects,” said Appold. “Now we’re looking at, ‘Wait this is not necessarily a good thing for the environment. What we need to do is change that view and stop it.'” [We should] say, ‘We need these plants. We need these plants that have nectar and pollen available for them.'”

A group known as Friends of the Purdue Bee Farm Garden is encouraging more bee-friendly gardens by building their own.

“What we’re trying to do with this garden is it’s kind of hub,” Appold said. “We want to bring people together, we want to bring bee keepers together, we want to bring master gardeners together, we want to bring the general public and have them see these wonderful plants in action.”

The garden will be built at the Purdue Bee Farms just off campus.

It will have a variety of native plants full of nectar and pollen sources to attract bees.

Appold said the public won’t be able to come and go, but arrangements can be made.

Heather Harvey is a bee advocate who’s taken up her own interest in bees.

“I noticed that I had these little bees flying into my lawn furniture and researched them and discovered they were native bees, leaf cutter bees,” said Harvey.

She’s hoping these efforts will promote more bee-friendly gardens.

“If we want to continue to have food and grow food pollination has to occur and I think a lot of people have heard by now that a third of the food that we consume just wouldn’t exist without bees to pollinate it,” Harvey said.

The group is hoping to have it completed by late spring or early summer.

Appold said the group is actively fundraising and taking donations to pay for the garden.