Hops for Bees, Beer and Whatever Ails You

Hops VineHops Vine for Challenging Climates

I planted some hops vines in my garden many years ago after seeing them thrive in the high desert climate of Bodie, a ghost town near Bridgeport in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  They added to the weird ambiance of this ghost town, climbing over the hitching post in front of the saloon and up the side of old abandoned barns. Was there really someone there?  Or not?

No additional water, no care and they were gorgeous!

I am reminded about this wonderful vine, because I’m admiring the hops right now in my garden and getting ready to harvest the hops which I save in a glass jar for a friend who makes herbal remedies and a neighbor who makes beer.

Hops are easy to cultivate because they spread and grow from underground stolons or runners.  Even then you pull some out to transplant, they often leave behind those stolons to re-sprout.  They look fabulous on trellises–the vines curl and twist from the very tips, literally reaching into the sky.  The vines grow to 30 feet, so be careful not to plant too near trees. They’ll climb up into the branches and because they wrap tightly around whatever they attach to, the vines can strangle and kill the branches.

In a garden, hops require virtually no care.  Your well-composted organic soil is best for growing healthy plants and vegetables, but hops will grow anywhere.  So consider using them in the odd places where other plants are challenged.

Hops Can Help Save the Beeshoneybee collecting pollen

While everyone thinks that hops are used mainly for beer, there have been some new medicinal discoveries in the last couple of years.  Hops may just be the magic elixir that saves the bees!

Honey bees have been disappearing in record numbers–as high as 90% of individual colonies.  Referred to as Colony Collapse Disorder, bee decline is tied to many of the same problems that are affecting human health–pesticides, pathogens, and in particular an insidious pest called the varroa mite.  The varroa mite attaches to a bee, feeds on it and at the same time transmits a variety of viruses, ultimately weakening and killing it.

But there may be a cure.  In 2012 it was discovered that the potassium salts found in the beta acids of hops kill the varroa mites and cause no harm to the bees.  In fact small cardboard strips wiped down with just a 1% solution of the beta acids and placed within the bee colonies killed 100% of the varroa mites.

Hops Can Help Save the Bees Click To Tweet

Hops have always been used as herbal cures for humans, its great to know that scientists are evaluating herbs for other environmental applications.

Hops As An Herbal Remedy

Throughout the centuries, even the original version of today’s beer was considered an herbal remedy due to the hops.  You’ll understand from my podcast with Kimberly Powers – LISTEN HERE, that tiny quantities of herbs and essential oils of herbs are extremely effective.  Mixtures containing hops are used for every ailment from sleep issues, to digestive issues to relieving muscle pain.  You’ll recognize the fragrance inhaled from just the bud of the hop.  Picked and dried it is almost overpowering.

So grow some hops for the beauty, the bees or for beer.  A unique choice for your garden that you’ll always enjoy!

By the way, I used these sturdy, easy to install two-panel folding trellis’ for my newest vines.  So simple and currently on sale too, until August 27.

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In sync with nature,

Tova Roseman
Earth Diva

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Tova Roseman
Tova Roseman is a horticulturist, designer, professional speaker and nationally best-selling author. She received two awards for Best Program in the nation for the Garden Talk Line on KOH radio and has been featured on HGTV, Discovery, NBC and ABC television. Tova is well-known for creating lush, organic gardens that are waterwise and pollinator friendly in challenging climates.