Today is April 5
Protect natural bee habitats
Honeybees are humble insects that benefit the environment in various ways. Unfortunately, many people lump bees in with wasps and other seemingly “harmful” insects and do whatever is necessary to remove them from their properties. But it’s important to be mindful of the beneficial roles bees play and to take steps to maintain healthy habitats so they can thrive.
Bees are one of the most important pollinators of flowers, crops and fruit trees. These small insects can make or break entire food supplies. They also pollinate clover and alfalfa that provide feed for cattle. Some experts place the economic value of bees at roughly $15 billion per year.
A consortium of universities and research laboratories that reported to The White House in 2015 found that beekeepers lost 42.1 percent of their colonies between 2014 and 2015. Bee populations continue to decline. According to the conservation organization Save the Bees, recent surveys suggest close to a 99 percent loss in bees over the last 150 years, primarily due to increasing agricultural intensification.
To combat this sharp decline in bee populations, people from all walks of life can do their part to help bees thrive once again. And by helping bees, individuals also may indirectly help other beneficial pollinating insects, such as butterflies.
Be aware of the landscape
Not all bees build the wax or paper structures associated with traditional beehives. Those hives may not be readily visible even for bees that do build them. Wood-nesting bees can nest in twigs or dead trees. Bees may nest underground or use the burrows abandoned by small rodents. Before excavating or disturbing more remote areas of the yard, check to see if it is a habitat for bees. Leave some natural areas of the landscape untouched and do not remove twigs, mounds of dirt and native flowers to attract more bees.
Plant native flowers and flowering trees
Offer bees plenty of flowering choices so they’ll be happy to come investigate. Native flowers are best because they will be most familiar. Try to plant an array that will flower at different times of the year. Simple flowers will offer more readily available access to pollen than hybrid or exotic varieties bred to produce mounding petals.
Leave swatches of natural lawn
Instead of properties featuring an entire manicured lawn, set aside an area that is encouraged to overgrow with dandelions and clovers, which are good nectar sources for many bees.
Support local beekeepers
If you find a honey bee swarm on your property, contact a local beekeeper who may be able to safely collect and relocate that swarm so it will produce honey and provide the additional benefits associated with healthy bees. People can also support beekeepers’ work by purchasing local honey. Not only does it keep jobs in the area, but some research also suggests that consuming local honey can help reduce seasonal allergies. WebMD says the practice is based on immunotherapy. Local honey contains traces of local pollen that may be responsible for seasonal allergies. Repeated exposure to small doses of this pollen might help bodies develop natural immunities.
Bees can be quite beneficial to have around, and it can be an enjoyable venture to customize landscapes to support the propagation of wild bees
Tater Day (Sweet Potatoes)
• Sweet potatoes don’t get ripe like other crops. They will continue growing as long as the plant has green leaves 120 to 150 days after harvesting.
• Sweet potatoes are more nutritious if cooked with the skin on.
• Fresh sweet potatoes can be stored for up to a month.
• When using candid yams, add them at the end of the recipe because they are already pre-cooked
• When grilling sweet potatoes, metal skewers are a must because it will cook the inside of the vegetable and speed up the cooking time.
• Sweet potatoes should not be refrigerated unless cooked.
• Store at 55 degrees to 65 degrees F.
• Always use a stainless steel knife when cutting a sweet potato, using a carbon blade will cause the yam to darken.
• Sweet potatoes are roots.
• African slaves called sweet potatoes “nyami” because it reminded them of the starchy, edible tuber of the name that grew in their homeland. The Senegalese word “nyami” was shortened to “yam.”
• The Beauregard has a sweet, rich flavor, bakes well and is disease-resistant.
• In 1987, Dr. Larry Ralston, an entomologist with LSU Agriculture Center’s research branch developed a more insect-resistant sweet potato and named it Beauregard.
• Sweet potatoes were grown in Peru as early as 750 B.C.
• George Washington, the first US President, was a sweet potato farmer
• A bad crop of cotton turned farmers in south Louisiana to sweet potatoes as a cash crop in the 1930’s.
• Louisiana sweet potato farmers started using the term “yam” several decades ago as a national marketing tool to help distinguish their variety from those grown on the East Coast.
• Native Americans were already growing sweet potatoes when Columbus arrived to America in 1492.
• Both Louis XV’s and Empress Josephine’s fondness of the sweet potato encouraged two short periods of popularity in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
• Sweet potatoes have been growing in the South since as early as 1648.
Louisiana Sweet Potato Pancakes
¾ Pound sweet potatoes
1 ½ Cups all-purpose flour
3 ½ Teaspoons baking powder
1 Teaspoon salt
½ Teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 Eggs, beaten
1 ½ Cups milk
¼ Cup butter, melted
Place sweet potatoes in a medium saucepan of boiling water, and cook until tender but firm, about 15 minutes. Drain, and immediately immerse in cold water to loosen skins. Drain, remove skins, chop, and mash. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Mix mashed sweet potatoes, eggs, milk and butter in a separate medium bowl. Blend sweet potato mixture into the flour mixture to form a batter. Preheat a lightly greased griddle over medium-high heat. Drop batter mixture onto the prepared griddle by heaping tablespoonfuls, and cook until golden brown, turning once with a spatula when the surface begins to bubble. Credits: Allrecipes.