A Curious Beekeeper Explores Bee Friendly Farming

Bee Friendly Farming is a self-certification program of the Pollinator Partnership. When BFF (as it is called) began, it was over seen by an organization called Partners for Sustainable Pollination. Partners for Sustainable Pollination merged several years ago into the Pollinator Partnership.

The criteria for becoming a Bee Friendly Farm is pretty simple according to their web site:

1. Offer forage providing good nutrition for bees on 3-6% of land.

2. Plant continuous bloom of different flowering plants throughout the growing season, especially in early spring and late autumn in temperate regions.

3. Offer clean water for bees.

4. Provide a variety of habitat for nesting and mating, through features such as hedgerows, natural brush, or bufferstrips.

5. Practice Integrated Pest Management (IPM); reduce or eliminate the use of chemicals.

6. Pay the annual $35 certification fee.

$35 is relatively cheap money IF you are able to use BFF in your honey marketing program. If you own the land your bees are on, the requirements are much in line with most best practice recommendations. At least there isn’t a hives need to be so high off the ground requirement like there is with Certified Naturally Grown.

When I first wrote this column there were 3 BFF in Maine. Now according to the map, there are 6. The movement is growing!

The ice is deep outside, so walking around and planning this year’s plantings isn’t going to happen anytime soon. I’m still trying to get a Gallbery a/k/a Inkberry hedge going to act as a windbreak and bee food source. About ½ the plants didn’t make it (funny, if you skip watering, plants tend not to grow enthusiastically.) I’ve got an area of predominantly Alder that I hope to clean out this spring – I haven’t decided exactly what will go in there but I think it will be woody plants as opposed to prairie type flowers.

My bees’ big needs are for feed in the early spring and mid July until Goldenrod. That takes common Witch Hazel off the table (fall blooming), maybe a Willow or a Dogwood.

The Heather I’ve planted over the past few years seems to be doing ok though it hasn’t been the bee magnet I hoped. At least it is still alive.

It’s so easy to get sidetracked; maybe I should look at this as another bee inspired adventure.http://pollinator.org/bff Check it out.

Andrew Dewey