Saturday, March 9, 2024

 Trees for bees: Creating ‘meadows in the sky’ for pollinators

The Michigan Beekeepers Association wants you to plant trees for bees! This group is the oldest continuously operating agricultural organization in the state and one of the oldest beekeeping clubs in the country. Its Trees for Pollinators program helps plant trees for the environment and provide resources for essential pollinators such as honeybees. “Honeybees are the most important pollinating insects in the world,” said Mike Connor, Michigan Beekeepers Association beekeeper, arborist and founder of the Grand Rapids Bee Club.  Trees for Pollinators took root three years ago when Connor and Michigan Beekeepers Association president Rich Wieske started to encourage people to plant pollen- and nectar-producing trees. Together, the two solidified a plan to make pollinator-friendly trees available through local bee clubs. Wieske sold 100 basswood trees out of the trunk of his car in the first year. In the second year, more than 1,300 flowering trees were planted. “Trees are meadows in the sky,” said Connor. “Some trees have millions of flowers that provide large quantities of quality nectar and pollen.” As the Trees for Pollinators program continues, Wieske aims to get more pollinator-friendly trees in the ground by starting a tradition of planting a tree for every child born. “Given the essential role honeybees play in crop pollination, it’s only sensible that the Michigan Beekeepers Association might commemorate new life by planting a tree to give back to the bees that work to sustain us,” said Wieske.

Trees for Pollinators trees are available to purchase through the Michigan Beekeepers Association website through March 17. This year, several trees have been selected to fill pollinator needs:

      · Pussy willows, blooming in April, help bee colonies with                    pollen and nectar as they emerge in the spring. 

      · Flowering crabapples provide nectar and pollen in early May.          They also provide winter food for robins and cedar waxwings. 

      · Tulip poplars are large trees and produce an exceptionally                  high nectar yield per flower.

      · American basswoods create high-quality nectar in great                    quantities for honeybees.

      · Winged sumac produces large quantities of nectar

in August, supporting bees and butterflies. The Michigan Beekeepers Association website shares growing information for each of the trees offered. A portion of proceeds benefits the organization and the local clubs that will distribute trees for pickup in April. Questions? Visit or contact Michigan Beekeepers Association member Lisa Stinson at Get tree planting tips, resources and a planting map from the DNR at

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