Hi, my name is Reid Lorenz. I am a Senior at Grimsley High School and an approaching Eagle Scout in Boy Scout Troop 101. You may have noticed new additions to two of the cornerstones on the Downtown Greenway, at the Edible Orchard at Meeting Place and Woven Works Park in the Bird, Bee, and Butterfly Pollinator Garden that surrounds Muddy Creek stream. These new additions are raised mason bee houses, small houses made of cedar wood and stuffed with bamboo rods that help protect and save the declining mason bee population. Recently, bees are in danger from extinction, due to parasites, pesticides, and colony collapse disorder. But when most people hear about bees becoming extinct, they automatically think of honeybees because they are more well-known and affect us more prominently as they are the main pollinators that help our food grow and end up in our homes. But mason bees are just as important. It is thought that one mason bee can do the work of 100 honeybees. Therefore, the main goal of these houses is to help these bees in their pollinating process and give them a nice home to thrive in.
In addition to designing, fabricating and installing the houses, I will also plant some pollinator plants around the bases of the three houses at Meeting Place in spring 2020. According to Charlie Headington, local permaculture gardener and member of the Permaculture Guild, mason bees prefer blue, purple, and yellow flowers, so planting purple hyacinth, blue asters, or yellow black-eyed susans are the best options. Back to the houses themselves, the reason for the bamboo inside the houses, is for each bee to have their own nest. They are known as solitary bees, because they neither live in colonies nor have a single queen. Rather, each female mason bee lays four or five eggs in small, natural holes or cavities, like the bamboo rods, each egg separated by mud. You may wonder why the houses are facing the direction that they are—mason bees are ectothermic which means that they can’t regulate their body temperature so their houses need to face a south/southeast direction so they can stay warm with the sun in the winter months.
I want to thank Dabney Sanders, Downtown Greenway Project Manager, for letting me put these houses on the Downtown Greenway and can’t wait for the bees to start to cultivate the houses in the spring.
Reid Lorenz, BSA Troop 101