Arboretum Paths: What’s all the buzz about?

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, July 25, 2018

By Patricia R. Drackett, Director and Assistant Extension Professor of Landscape Architecture
The Crosby Arboretum, Mississippi State University Extension Service

Lately I’ve really been noticing some really happy honey bees working the flowers in our Pollinator Garden. They will most likely then make a “beeline” back to the hives that we have at the Crosby Arboretum.

With all the tasks that our small staff faces daily, we just wouldn’t have the time to maintain beehives without the help of long-time volunteer Jac Coleman, who maintains the hives. For the past few years, both he and Peasie Lilly of Cales Farm Supply have kept us well-stocked, with donations of hives, bees, equipment, and supplies.

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Many of you have been asking about when our Arboretum honey will be back in stock in the gift shop. We’re pleased to report that Jac has recently collected and packaged a new batch of honey, now sitting alongside delicious-smelling beeswax candles his wife makes from the honeycomb.

There’s been a lot of buzz lately about bees. Bees and gardens go hand in hand! The pollinating insects offer the benefit of increasing your yield of flowers, fruit, and seed.

We refer visitors who mention they are interested in beekeeping to the Facebook page for the Beekeepers of Pearl River County and Surrounding Areas. The purpose of this great group is to share knowledge and tips among area beekeepers and those who are interested in getting started.

Pearl River County Extension agent Dr. Eddie Smith will hold a beekeeping program at the Arboretum this Friday, July 27 from 10:00 a.m. to noon. He’ll be covering native plants for bees, basic bee biology, choosing equipment, personal protective gear, common mistakes and valuable tips, how to grow your first colony of bees, and how to manage them throughout the year. Although the class may be full by the time you are reading this, we are planning to regularly offer this topic.

There are many great native plants that are attractive to bees. One such native shrub that occurs naturally on our property is Clethera, known as sweet pepperbush or summersweet.
Summersweet is a handsome, fragrant shrub, and if you take a spin on the Internet, you will see that it is stunning in full bloom. Its bottlebrush-shaped blooms are very attractive to bees and butterflies. Many cultivars are commercially available, including the pink-flowering ‘Ruby Spice’ and ‘Pink Spire’ and the compact ‘Hummingbird’.

Although Clethera prefers part shade and constantly moist acidic soils, it is adaptable to a wide range of environmental conditions, from average to wet (well-drained) soils, and from full sun to part shade.

Check out the Arboretum’s plant data base linked on our home page, which contains more bee-friendly species. You can also search by keyword on the MSU Extension website at for more information.

We are almost finished with a greenhouse renovation project and will soon be growing a variety of native plants for pollinators to offer year-round to area gardeners.

A kids’ Seed Art Craft Workshop will be Thursday, July 26 from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. also led by Kim Johnson. Children will use various seeds to create their own masterpieces. Program size is limited and registration is requested. Cost is $3 for members’ children and $5 for non-members’ children $5. There is no charge for adults.

August programs include Summer Smart Landscapes on August 4, from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. The topic will be how to create gardens that thrive in summer’s heat. This program is free for members, and $5 for non-members.

A DSLR 101 photography workshop will be held on Saturday, August 4 from 10:00 to noon. Photography Diana Thornton will show you how to get your DSLR camera out of auto mode, and will cover essential controls and settings, the Exposure Triangle (aperture/shutter Speed/ISO), lenses and how they affect your exposure, depth of field and composition, file types/sizes, white balance, composition and developing your “eye”. This program is an outside photo walk, weather permitting. Instruction will not be camera or brand specific, and is limited to 6 students. The cost is $10 for members and $15 for non-members.

A summer native plant field walk will be held Saturday, August 25, from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. Call 601-799-2311 to sign up for programs and reserve your place.

Crosby Arboretum memberships are now half price because we are now halfway through the year! One of the many benefits of an Arboretum membership is the opportunity to visit more than 300 U.S. public gardens for free or reduced admission through the American Horticultural Society’s Reciprocal Admissions Program.

For more information on our activities and visiting the Crosby Arboretum, see<>. We are located in Picayune, I-59 Exit 4, at 370 Ridge Road (south of Walmart and adjacent to I-59).