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All About Bees with Diane Berk

We were pleased to have Diane Berk join us a few weeks ago to kick off our Spring complimentary classes we offer at Riverbend Nurseries! Diane is a local beekeeper who knows the value bees play in our environment as pollinators and honey producers. Below is a synopsis of topics discussed at this class!

Why do you want bees in your garden if you do not have a hive set up for them to live and produce honey? The simple answer to that is because bees pollinate not only our flowers but also our fruits and vegetables too. Any plant that has a flower bud on it can be pollinated, including (for example) tomato vines and blueberry bushes. Veggie plants must have a pollinator for it to produce a vegetable. Here at Riverbend Nurseries, we grow a wide variety of plants that attract pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.

photo courtesy of the Honey Bee Conservancy

Here is a list of some of the many plants and trees we offer that attract bees (a few may surprise you!- they did me!):

Blueberry bush




Bee balm

Common Milkweed






Tulip Poplar

Weeping Willows

Perennial flowers

Annual flowers

Scientists have studied what makes the Queen Bee in a hive “Queen” for several decades. For a long time it has been thought that the young developing queen exclusively eats “royal jelly” and it is that that makes her become Queen Bee (What is “royal jelly” or “bee milk”? It is a substance of water, proteins, and sugars which is secreted from glands of the worker bees to feed the baby bees).

Scientists are now thinking it may be just the opposite- that she is not fed pollen and honey may be what makes her Queen Bee, not the royal jelly. It is still in part a mystery because it happens in the dark with thousands and thousands of bees surrounding with thousands of stingers (there can be as many as 50,000 bees in a hive!)!

Swarms of bees follow and find the moved queen by the “pheromone” she emits. For more on this amazing process, check out Bee Informed.

photo courtesy of Bee Informed

Websites Diane Recommends:

Kelley Bees: beekeeping supplies

Wolf Creek: purchasing bees with beekeeping in mind

Nashville Area Beekeeper’s Association: they offer classes, events, and meetings

Bee Books Diane Recommends:

For kids- The Magic School Bus: Inside a Bee Hive by Joanna Cole

Adults- How to Keep Bees and Sell Honey by Walter T. Kelley

Our last complimentary class this Spring is happening THIS Saturday, April 23rd, at 1pm! Ron Daniels (Master Consulting Rosarian for Cheekwood Gardens in Nashville & featured gardener on NPT’s “Volunteer Gardener”) will be joining us for a Rose discussion. You really don’t want to miss this! No sign- up necessary; class will be held at our Garden Center. We’d love to see you!

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