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It’s Time for Plan Bee: High Country Native, Randy Bigbee, Helps You Host the Native Bee in Your Backyard

by Erika Giovanetti

June 20, 2013. This week is Bee Pollination Week, making it a great time to decide to raise some pollinators in your own garden.

Bigbee with one of his native bee capture boxes

The population of the essential honeybee species has been on the decline for years. With this in mind, Moravian Falls local Randy Bigbee now offers his unique “capture boxes,” which offer a nesting place for native bees that can’t otherwise find one.

Bigbee of Native Bees NC believes the decline of the honeybee may be caused by genetically modified (GMO) pesticides and chemicals used in modern farming and gardening. He proposes that these chemicals make the bees sick, reaping the nutrition that bees are supposed to receive from plants. This leaves the bees without the energy and nutrition to go out and pollinate well.

Companies like Native Bees NC encourage gardeners to nest the efficient native bee in their backyard to supplement the bee population.

There are two types of bees: the social bee, which is also referred to as the honeybee, and the native bee, also referred to as the mason, orchard or pollinating bee. Three species of native bees are found in Watauga County: blue orchard, hornface and leafcutter.

Much of our food supply is produced with the help of pollinators such as butterflies and bees. Without bees, we could be facing an eminent food crisis. Bigbee puts it simply: “No pollination, no food.”

Bigbee is part of an organization dedicated to spreading the word about the mason bee’s potential called Bee Gardener Adding Pollinators (BeeGAP). BeeGAP encourages gardeners, or anyone with a backyard, to help produce these essential native bees.

“Native bees are much more efficient cross pollinators, because mason bees have hair, but honeybees do not. It takes 250 mason bees, or 30,000 honey bees, to pollinate one acre,” Bigbee said.

Those of you who dislike bees need not fear; native bees are less aggressive than their honeybee counterpart.

“Honeybees are stationed to protect the hive’s nectar, queen, and workers, so they’ll sting,” said Bigbee.

On the other hand, native bees are temperate and mind their own “beeswax.” Their job is to pollinate and lay eggs rather than to protect. Bigbee said the sting of a mason bee is equivalent to a mosquito bite.

Mason bee nests are easy to use, affordable, and available online through Native Bees NC. Bigbee offers help with the boxes by setting them up, harvesting the bees at the end of the season or assisting with any other step in the process.

The nests have three different types of tubing that the native bees use to lay their eggs. The standard for the native bee industry is an easy-tear cardboard tube that isn’t reusable, but Bigbie offers two alternatives that are better for the environment.

Phragmites lake reed nesting tubes come from Washington State. These reeds actually pollute the area they come from, so using them as an organic alternative to cardboard is good for the environment all around.

Bigbee revolutionizes native bee nests by introducing re-usable bamboo nesting tubes. He said that the bees are more attracted to the organic trapping tubes than to their cardboard counterparts.

“We are also working on a product called Eden David Clear, which is a positive charge organic product that we can spray on honeybee hives that helps them to release and detoxify whatever has gone inside the honeybees and cleanses them,” said Bigbee.

Bigbee encourages every member of the community to contribute their time and effort to this important cause. By using better products, cutting out pesticides and raising these bees personally, our community can make an impact on the local environment, food production and economy.

Native bee nesting boxes can be home made or purchased at www.nativebeesnc.com. Randy Bigbee will be happy to help you raise your own bees and can be reached at 336-838-3889 or [email protected].

Native bee nests inside Bigbee's re-usable bamboo tubing
Native bee nests inside Bigbee’s re-usable bamboo tubing