Boosting Bees with beautification efforts this spring

Published: May. 2, 2022 at 8:51 PM EDT
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IRON MOUNTAIN, Mich. (WLUC) - Cities across the U.P. are ramping up beautification efforts. Spring has arrived and so too have our friendly pollinators. Though small, these creatures, like bees, have a big impact.

“No bees, no people. That is what it boils down to eventually,” said Joel Lantz, Superior Bee Keeping Club Founding Member.

Lantz has been working with bees for 35 years. He says pollinator populations are decreasing, but the number of Honeybees in the U.P. is increasing.

Despite that, Lantz said keeping bees is harder now than ever.

“Bees have become very stressed with all the pesticides that we are using. Their habitat is also shrinking,” Lantz said.

Lantz said while weeds like dandelions may not be visually appealing, they serve an essential role in early spring. In fact, he recommends decreasing your mowing frequency, or not mowing at all during May and June.

“We are a little behind the rest of the country as far as our season goes, and in June we start getting all that White Dutch Clover. It is wonderful for pollinators,” Lantz said.

Soon, beautification committees across the U.P. will plant flowers to liven up their downtowns. Iron Mountain’s Downtown Development Authority (DDA) is currently looking for sponsors to support their planting efforts, which could benefit more than the scenery.

“We welcome all the bees to come visit our flowers and spread pollen. I think it is such a wonderful thing that we are able to not only elevate the aesthetic of the downtown but help our friends the bees,” said Mindy Wittock, Iron Mountain DDA Program Director.

Wittock said it takes about $12,000 to plant the downtown area. She will plant 34 hanging baskets, 48 sidewalk planters, 13 pocket gardens, and one greenhouse.

Lantz says urban areas have some of the highest concentrations of bees. When he started beekeeping, there were only four Apiarists in Marquette County. Now there are over 200.

“A lot of our young people are probably more informed about what is happening to the Earth. They have a passion for it, it is their world, and they want it to survive,” Lantz said.

Lantz says thanks to an increased interest in beekeeping and beautification efforts from our cities, he is hopeful for the future of pollinator populations.

Wittock said anyone interested in donating to beautification efforts can send an email to mindy@downtownironmountain.com

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