Leading the Way for Pollinator Plantings in Lubbock
Thursday, November 3, 2016
While we’re getting ready to stuff our faces with turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie (one of the many foods made possible by bees!) this holiday season, our favorite fuzzy insects are in search of a winter feast, too. Bayer recently visited with bee health advocates and researchers at Texas Tech to kick off our first annual fall forage tour, during which we’ll plant 50 million wildflowers over the course of just six weeks.
Supporting Bee Health Research
At our first stop along the way, we traveled to Texas Tech’s Quaker Avenue Research Farm in Lubbock, Texas, and pulled double-duty to host two planting events. Three graduate student researchers in the Department of Plant and Soil Science are investigating topics like pollinator forage patterns, plant attractiveness and how irrigation and rainfall affect plant plots, under the direction of Dr. Scott Longing, an entomology professor at Texas Tech. These findings can have far-reaching impacts in the broader community, such as saving water in drought conditions. During our planting event on the farm, we sowed flowers on a dedicated pollinator plot. These blooms will serve the dual purpose of not only establishing native food sources for pollinators like honey bees but also acting as the basis of these research projects. I, as well as those in attendance at our kickoff event, enjoyed hearing about the groundbreaking studies being done by these enterprising students.
Establishing Native Flower Patches
To round out this first planting event of our fall tour, we also headed to the South Plains Food Bank’s Carolyn Lanier Youth Farm for an interactive, educational planting with children in the Growing Recruits for Urban Business (GRUB) program. This was the second portion of our two-part event with Texas Tech, and in addition to the children who are part of the GRUB program, more Texas Tech students attended, joined by community members and local beekeepers. One of the best parts of the event, aside from hand scattering seeds to sow a healthier spring for bees, was the demonstration one of the local beekeepers gave to the children, complete with exploring the inner workings of a hive and showing off a real beekeeping suit. The kids especially enjoyed learning more about the roles different bees hold in the overall hive.
More Blooms for Bees
Our first stop at Texas Tech in the Feed a Bee fall planting tour, which includes key partners in multiple states and industries, set a great tone for the next events to come. I was so inspired to see the genuine engagement and interest from community members and partner organizations in attendance, such as the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and Pheasants Forever, among others.
Thank you to everyone who came to Texas Tech and Carolyn Lanier Youth Farm to help establish diverse nutrition sources for bees and other pollinators in the form of dedicated wildflower plots. I’m looking forward to continuing to work with our partners across the nation to promote and protect pollinator health in the coming months.