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Native Plants, Pollinator Friendly Perrenials and Kate Whealen’s Top Bar Beehives – Santa Fe, NM

Originally posted at Top-Bar-Beehives.com:

Top Bar Beehive ParadiseMaking my way south, I arrived in Santa Fe, NM to meet with Kate Whealen, one of the founders of Sangre de Cristo Beekeepers.  Entering her well established native plant and perennial herb garden, the sound of buzzing bees filled the air and streaks of light could be seen flying into her top bar beehives which were tucked in amongst the trees and shrubs.  As we sat on her patio and talked, I learned about her experiences of becoming a beekeeper, all of which started when she met Les Crowder at a local beekeeping workshop.

After learning about top bar beehives, she began to build her own hives and created the first beekeeping group in Santa Fe so she could keep in touch with other classmates.  Over the years, she has became further involved in local beekeeping and has become a primary resource for top bar knowledge in the area.  As an urban beekeeper, she expressed her concerns about the current drought that is affecting New Mexico’s climate, which not only is impacting the honeybees but is also making it more difficult for the plants in her garden.  Additionally, Kate has done a lot of work locally to educate the community about the detrimental affects that pesticides and herbicides have on honeybees and native pollinators (including flies and beetles), which has helped her avoid some loses (unlike a lot of other beekeeper’s I’ve met).

HoneybeeAfter our interview, we spent hours walking through her garden, watching the bees drink water out of the bird baths and talking about the various plants she has brought into the landscape.  As I explored the yard, I found multiple types of yarrow, artemisia, aster, penstemon, Russian sage, narrow leaf sage, Turkish horehound, cowboy’s delight (malo), bachelor’s button, germander, veronica, hyssop, rock rose, and lambs ear,  along with many other pollinator-friendly plants; many of which were in full bloom.  Much like the work I’m doing in our gardens in Sedona, Kate’s incorporation of native and perennial plants is a great example of how we should be creating safe spaces for honeybees and native pollinators that are full of diverse nectar and pollen sources and free of poisons.  For more information about pollinator-friendly plants, please check back soon for my upcoming post on this subject or shoot me an email to discuss what plants would be good for your bioregion.