You often hear us talk about the plight of the honey bee, but wild bees are facing what many will tell you is an even bigger problem than the honey bee. There are estimates that if something does not dramatically change, more than 40 percent of the wild bee species could become extinct within the next two decades. In an effort to reverse that trend, some local girl scouts are creating bee hotels to provide shelter for wild bees.
Repurposing with a Purpose
One of the things that is so impressive about this project is that the girls were building their hives with repurposed paper straws, toilet paper rolls, and cardboard boxes, among other things. The project originated from a day camp in Denver for Girl Scouts. The project is part of Think Like a Citizen Scientist Journey, which challenges the girls to create sustainable projects that will make a difference in the world. After many considerations, these girls decided helping wild bees would be their project.
Initially, some of the girls were hesitant, to say the least. Remember, these girls range in age from 12 to 18, so the “fear” factor definitely comes into play. 11-year-old Imani stated, “There were times it was hard because there were so many girls and lots of ideas, but we worked together, and it was fun. We found a way to come to a compromise and work together to make a fun bee hotel so the bees can fit their fuzzy little buns in.” She added, “I’m afraid of bugs, so it was hard for me to go look at the bees and learn about them. I’m glad I did. I’m still scared, but I understand how we need bees for food and flowers and that they have a purpose.”
To Imani’s point, the real benefit in all of this is the younger generation fully understanding just how important bees are to us. Dennis vanEngelsdorp, a University of Maryland entomology professor, threw his support behind the project, believing these new bee hotels will help attract other species of bees to areas in need of pollinators. Additionally, the education value for these young ladies is, well, priceless. He stated, “What you’re seeing is that you need bees to survive, and so who better to be concerned about that than the people who are going to inherit the next generation? These efforts are really good because hopefully they set up a lifelong commitment to preserving biodiversity.”