Students Promote Native Bee Populations
The Science Department is always buzzing with activity on Lab Days and the most recent Lab Days were no exception! Throughout the science building, students were actively engaged in learning through hands-on lab work. Chemistry and biology classes performed technical labs, Earth Science classes modeled convection, and Life Science students simulated a watershed decision-making activity.
There were truly some busy bees in Integrated Science class where the students created habitats to help native bee populations thrive as part of their sustainability unit. As their teacher Mrs. Fernandes said, “Everyone knows about honey bees and their decline in recent years due to pesticide use, Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), climate change, lack of habitat, and lack of food and water.” She explained that bees are so important to human life “because two-thirds of all our food products come to us from the activities of pollinators like bees, butterflies, moths, birds, and flies.”
One way to combat the honey bee colony collapse, Mrs. Fernandes explained, “is to promote native bee populations by providing them with suitable habitats.” The students collected invasive bamboo stalks and used them to create bee habitats by cutting each stalk into shorter lengths to form tubes, and then placing cut bamboo bundles into re-purposed plastic containers that were donated by members of Grier’s faculty and staff.
While there are bee “hotels” available on the market, Mrs. Fernandes says they are overpriced and not as well suited to support native bees, which are solitary species like mason bees, leaf-cutter bees, carpenter bees, and bumblebees. The design of these home-made bamboo bee habitats is perfect because the bamboo tubes can be made the ideal length for male and female offspring to emerge and the tubes can be economically replaced after use, which is essential to bee health.
The bee habitats will be placed up high under the protection of eaves or roofs, facing east. Each habitat can support about 25 bees, so with regular maintenance that simply involves replacing the used bamboo tubes, even one bee habitat can foster 250 bees over a decade of use! What’s more, Mrs. Fernandes says, “mason bees are very productive, and each one can pollinate about 75,000 flowers.” That means, the four bee houses made by Integrated Science will help pollinate nearly two million flowers!