40 percent of U.S. bees perished since April 2014—second highest die-off ever

Bee deaths since April 2014, are the second highest ever.

Bee deaths since April 2014, are the second highest ever. (Flickr / rickpilot_2000)

The number of bee colonies that died in the year since April 2014 reached levels only ever seen once before, reported the Bee Informed Partnership.

Of the total number of colonies managed over the past 12 months, U.S. beekeepers said 42.1 percent were lost. It was the second-highest annual loss recorded.

Annual beehive losses varied across the nation, with the highest in Oklahoma at 63.4 percent and the lowest in Hawaii, with 14 percent.

During this past winter season, the Bee Informed Partnership gathered data from 6,128 beekeepers in the United States who managed 398,247 colonies as of October 2014. That represents about 14.5 percent of the estimated 2.74 million managed honey bee colonies in the country.

Winter die-offs were reported to be 18.7 percent, which is quite a bit lower than the nine-year average total loss of 28.7 percent, the partnership noted. But bees don’t just die in the winter; they perish in the summer too.

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Read the study at Bee Informed…

Spring is the time to stop pruning oak trees

MSU Extension:

Fresh pruning wounds of oak trees attract beetles that spread oak wilt. It is critical to not prune oaks from April 15-July 15 in Michigan.

Oak wilt is an aggressive disease that affects many species of oak (Quercus spp.). It is one of the most serious tree diseases in the eastern United States, killing thousands of oaks each year in forests, woodlots and home landscapes. Oaks in the red oak group, distinguished by oak leaves with pointy lobes (Photo 1), are much more susceptible to the disease than white oaks, distinguished by oak leaves with rounded lobes. However, all oaks can be affected.

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A guide to growing and harvesting vegetables in the fast lane

Cherry Belle radishes. (Flickr / Ripplestone Garden)

Cherry Belle radishes. (Flickr / Ripplestone Garden)

The Salt at NPR.org:

Yes, it is true that gardening requires patience.

But face it, we live in an impatient world. And gardeners everywhere were depressed by the brutal and endless winter.

So we are understandably eager to get sowing. And to see results by … well, if not next Thursday, then maybe mid-May?

There are two ways to make this happen. Some garden varieties naturally have a short germinate-to-harvest cycle. Then there are the hybrids developed at universities and seed companies. They take two plants with great traits (like early arrival or cold tolerance) and forge an even hardier offspring.

For guidance on the world of speedy plot-to-table vegetables, we turned to Ryan Schmitt, a horticulturist and garden blogger in Longmont, Colo., and Weston Miller, a community and urban horticulturist for the Oregon State University Extension Service.

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The Greening of Detroit receives award

The American Horticultural Society has announced that the recipient of its 2015 Urban Beautification Award is The Greening of Detroit. This award is given to an individual, institution, or company for significant contributions to urban horticulture and the beautification of American cities. Founded in 1989, The Greening of Detroit is a Michigan nonprofit resource agency that focuses on using city land in a way that improves quality of life, has environmental integrity, and promotes education and stewardship. Its programs seek to address some of Detroit’s most challenging issues, from unemployment to “food deserts”—areas where residents lack ready access to fresh, locally grown food. Thousands of the organization’s volunteers assist with planting trees and creating gardens in neighborhoods throughout the city each year. For more information: www.greeningofdetroit.com and www.ahs.org.

Holland, Michigan’s Windmill Island Gardens celebrates 50 years

Mother’s Day blooms abound at Windmill Island Gardens. (Photo: Flickr/Rachel Kramer)

Mother’s Day blooms abound at Windmill Island Gardens. (Photo: Flickr/Rachel Kramer)

2015 marks the 50th anniversary of Windmill Island Gardens, a city-owned park in the heart of Holland, Michigan. To celebrate the anniversary, horticulture staff will implement a theme of “The Gilded Garden,” intended to evoke a sense of luxury, opulence and visual treasure.

After the tulips are done blooming, annuals will be planted in their place. The gardening staff has chosen flower cultivars in as many shades of yellow and gold as possible to evoke the rich hues of summer. Vibrant masses of golden-toned blooms, stunning color, arresting foliage, and carefully chosen plant combinations will adorn each flower bed. Over 100 varieties of annuals are included in the garden plan; over 20 are new cultivars that have never been grown on the island before.

Whether visitors are seeking a tranquil corner, a shady bench with a view of the windmill, or a velvet expanse of green lawn, the gardens at Windmill Island can provide a feast for the eyes and the soul. For nearly 50 years, the centerpiece of the gardens has been the 252-year-old DeZwaan Windmill. It symbolizes the authentic Dutch heritage of the community. For more information, click here.