It’s Slow Mow Spring on the grounds of the Dominican Sisters of Hope’s administrative offices and The Center at Mariandale. In conjunction with Green Ossining, we’re participating in an international movement to feed the hungry bees that pollinate apple trees, blueberry bushes, strawberry beds, sunflowers and many other crops.  “The way we relate to the natural world is evolving,” according to Sr. Bette Ann Jaster. “We are becoming aware of a mutually enhancing relationship with the natural world and therefore we are extending our land, our hearts and minds to make room for our sister and brother bees.”

Our understanding of the best way to protect this keystone species is also evolving. In previous years we called the effort No Mow May. The name change reflects a new approach: rather than going a full month without mowing, we’ll be mowing less frequently – every two to three weeks – throughout the spring. According to Garden Design, Dutch white clover, native violas, and dandelions all flower in mowed lawns and help nourish bees. The key is paying attention when they’re blooming, according to local naturalists, who now believe that with judicious mowing both plants and bees can flourish. Visitors to Mariandale will also notice island “meadows” throughout the summer.

Ground nesting bees represent 70% of all bee species, and are particularly vulnerable according to the Bee Conservancy. In addition to protecting their nests, gardeners and lawn owners can help by planting native plants and trees, and avoiding pesticides, among other actions.  Whether or not you have a lawn or garden, New Yorkers can help by signing this petition to tell elected officials to pass the Birds and Bees Protection Act.

Have you taken action to help bees? We invite you to share in the comments section below.