Fall yard cleanup bad for bees, warns apiarist

Leave those leaves where they are, says beekeeper Erica Shelley. Solitary bees embed their larvae in the ground and raking leaves can harm their chance of surviving over winter.

A local apiarist is encouraging people to skip major yard cleanups this fall for the sake of bee health.

Bee expert Erica Shelley says people unwittingly destroy important bee habitats when they rake leaves and clean away dead wood.

While honeybee colonies overwinter in their hives, solitary bees don't survive the winter months and bury their larvae in the ground or in the hollows of branches. When spring arrives and temperatures warm up, the new insects know it's time to emerge, says Shelley.

"If people are throwing out their dead wood, rototilling their gardens and throwing down mulch in the spring, then they actually can't emerge," she said.

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