|Pine Avenue, known as “The Greenest Little Main Street in America” just added another environmentally friendly and eco-beneficial element to it’s ever expanding and interconnected maze of green initiatives. Bees! Honey bees to be exact!
Micheal Coleman, operating partner for the Pine Avenue Restoration project says, “assembling the elements that add up to responsive development is like putting together a puzzle and the bees are a very important piece of that puzzle.”
Bees are crucial for human survival because they pollinate plants, helping them survive and grow, which, in turn, provides food for animals and humans. Up to 80% of all crops rely on honey bees to survive. Nearly 85% of the nation’s total food supply depends on bees. They are also our first line of defense against the invasive and deadly Africanized killer bees.
Getting honey bees to Pine Avenue developed as most things do on Anna Maria, a think tank of like-minded folks sipping coffee on one of the retail shop porches that dot the city’s main street. The bee conversation, as it is now being referred to, came out of another conversation about the recently implemented Community Edible Gardens. A few months ago, seven boxed gardens were created on Pine Avenue as an experiment to see if vegetables could be grown in the intense Florida summer heat. They not only grew but thrived to Jack and the Beanstalk proportions. http://www.groupersandwich.com/news/2013/08/growing-food-on-pine-avenue/.
Mike Miller, local native plant guru, who researched and developed the gardens, noticed that the Seminole pumpkins planted in the boxes weren’t doing that great. He mentioned this to Coleman saying that the cause may be the lack of bees. After reading an article in the Islander newspaper, which discussed the strategies that were being developed to increase the survival rate of the declining bee population throughout the US, Coleman and his wife Jane, along with Miller, put two and two together. No bees, slow plant growth. A light went off. “We need bees on Pine Avenue!” exclaimed Coleman. He decided to educate himself on bees and to find a way to get them to Pine Avenue.
Coleman called, Jackie Corley, a commercial beekeeper from Palmetto. According to Corley, the bees will forage in a 3 to 4 mile radius of their home and he estimates each hive will produce about 80 pounds of honey per year. In addition, Corley stated the flavor of the honey the bees make depends on the plants they pollinate. Coleman is already working on a name for the newest Pine Avenue product, ‘Paradise Honey’.
“Bees don’t sleep,” Corley says, “They work up to 15 hours a day collecting pollen, mentoring younger bees and constructing the honeycomb.” Corley will inspect the honeycomb each month to ensure they are kept free of disease and bugs. He will keep the population stable by removing or adding bees as they are needed. Adding European queen bees will also help to keep the hive genetically sound.
Several homeowners have embraced the edible gardens concept planting the edible box gardens in their own yards. Miller and Coleman hope people will also see the ecological benefit of bees and want to get some bees of their own. Coleman thinks this is among the most important additions to Pine Avenue to date. He explains, “Adding bees was the logical next step in our mission to preserve the past while embracing the future. We are part of a global transition movement, in which individuals, neighbors and neighborhoods take into their own hands the environmental, cultural and economic destinies of their communities”
Other initiatives include the development of nationally recognized and award winning green-certified buildings brought about through the Pine Avenue Restoration conceived by Ed Chiles, Coleman and Ted LaRoche as well as the Green Village project developed by Mike and Lizzie Thrasher. Also under the ‘green’ umbrella are sustainable water management systems, extensive native landscapes, computerized energy management systems and the before mentioned edible gardens. According to Coleman, “We are committed to the principles of Responsive Development. This means doing the right thing, the right way, responsive to the pre existing environment as well as the needs of the community, so that the development occurs within, not on top of, its environment. This is done using practical, measurable and repeatable processes, as models for others. In this way the benefits are leveraged for maximum benefit.”
Ed Chiles said, “Incorporating bees into Pine Avenue is a natural complement of our efforts here at the Chiles Group – to be as sustainable as we can be with a focus on locally sourced organics.” Chiles is referring to his recent purchase of two local farms where he will be growing and harvesting produce for local restaurants and community groups as well as for his restaurants. http://www.bradenton.com/2013/10/13/4770449/ed-chiles-revives-gamble-creek.html#storylink=cpy
The bees are located at an undisclosed, secure location to ensure that they can go about their work undisturbed. So if you notice more honey bees in Anna Maria rest assured that they are part of a master plan.
For more information contact Caryn Hodge email@example.com 941-778-8705.