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Extension > Source > Fall-Winter 2014 > Feed the bees

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Feed the bees

Extension Master Gardeners show youth that some of the same "Smart Snack" plants that feed bees keep people healthy too.

"From country residents to condo dwellers, everyone can provide for pollinators," says Tim Kenny, Extension Master Gardener director and education director at the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.

The Arboretum and Extension recently hosted a learning garden called "Smart Snacks." Master Gardeners were there to share information about how to create community gardens at schools, churches, libraries and other public places.

The Smart Snack garden concept includes healthy snacks for both people and pollinators—cherry tomatoes, basil, and an array of flowers such as zinnias and verbenas. Signs displayed nutrition information for the edible plants and carried reminders to "feed the crew," too.

"By 'crew' we mean bumblebees, the main pollinator of tomatoes," says Kenny. "Tomato plants pollinated by bumblebees produce 45 percent more fruit, so it's important to attract them to your garden with their own snacks—flowers."

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