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The world’s bee populations are disappearing due to habitat loss and the use of pesticides. Now The Bee Conservancy has started the program Sponsor-A-Hive. The group is looking for community-focused organisations based in the U.S and Canada that support food growth, education or conservation in order to award them with a bee home. This program will help bee populations but also local food security and production. Research tells us that having bees in a garden or community farm can increase crop yield by 70%.
The Bee Conservancy is distributing 500 bee homes in total. The ones receiving the hives are local community-focused organisations like for example, community gardens, schools or tribal organisations. Guillermo Fernandez, founder and executive director of The Bee Conservancy, tells Treehugger:
“We’re looking for organizations that share our passion to nurture local bee populations, create habitat for them, and support their communities and local food systems.”
The bee homes are designed by woodworker Cornelius Schmid and are built with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified sustainably sourced wood. The homes are built by Brooklyn Wood, a group that teaches woodworking and fabrication skills to unemployed and low-income New Yorkers. The major part of this project was sponsored by Garnier.
To get the most optimal bee house, members of the group researched where native bees are interested in living and what sustains them. With all the information gathered they incorporated those factors into their bee homes.
Native bees are more solitary than honey bees and prefer to live alone in holes found in wood or reeds or simply in the ground. The Bee Conservancy's homes replicate nature with wood tubes for nesting. Unlike the bee homes you can buy in stores, this special one has three types of tubes for nesting. Having a mix of tubes ensures that different bees can use the “house”. It also decreases the chance of illness or pests being spread between bees. Last but not least. The homes have landing boards so the bees can rest while carrying food, pollen or water.
“By adding to our bee house a set of removable shelves that also act as landing boards, we’re creating an opportunity for awardees to observe the bees that land on the boards. Not only will we be able to observe and identify the bee species that have moved in, but also note their health, the colour and type of pollen they’re carrying, and register any unique behaviours,” Fernandez says.
200 of the homes were distributed last fall and the 300 that’s left will be awarded this spring. Applications to receive a bee home are being accepted online until the end of April. Besides a bee home, the recipients will also be given educational materials and ongoing support.
“The bee houses will not only support the local ecosystem and pollinate nearby crops, but also provide an opportunity to educate and engage thousands of students and community members about sustainability and the importance of bees,” Fernandez explains.
Picture: The Bee Conservancy