Bee Condos: Steps Away from Sweet Educational Opportunities

Kid-friendly global bee revival can start in your own backyard and provide dynamic learning opportunities for the whole family

When looking to attract wildlife for children to observe, we often choose birds. Bird feeders and houses can be fairly simple to create and, especially in terms of food and birds are a very “if you build it, they will come” type of creature. But what if there was another creature in need of support who could just as easily be housed and fed in your yard via DIY projects? It’s no secret these days that bee populations are quickly declining, and as it turns out, families can take some very simple steps in order to offer bees with lots of appropriate habitat.

Since the 1990’s, we’ve been globally aware that bee populations were in danger. Pesticide use is one of the leading causes of this decline in the presence of pollinators, and while there is much being done to raise awareness and change practices, we still have a long way to go before bees will be safe. And in order to support local pollinators, there are lots of kid-friendly things that families can do at home.

Careful planning and managing of home gardens is the best way to support bees (especially if you include plants that local pollinators love), but there are some important ideas that children must learn before inviting bees to cozy up to their plants and move in next door. It’s very important for children to remember not to poke around a bee’s home (no matter how hard it is to resist curiosity!), and to remember to be aware of their surroundings so that they know when bees are near. However, when these things are kept in mind, bees can be great neighbors!

In order to have some backyard bees to watch, families can build their own bee condos, also know as an insect hotel. There are a few different designs for homemade bee homes, each with a different level of difficulty. The simplest way to create a bee condo involves some recycled materials (paper straws, cardboard, and cardboard tubes) and hot glue, and doesn’t take too long to make. Folks with woodworking skills and slightly more time can use chunks of pine or fir wood (as well as some paper straws!) to make a long-lasting bee condo that native bees will love to inhabit.

Once you’ve invited bees into your yard, start watching for them! See if you can learn more about them just be observing their daily habits. Keep track of the plants that they gravitate towards, count the number that you see every day, and try to identify the species that you’re seeing. Additionally, family’s can attend events at one of Piti Theater Company’s three upcoming bee weeks in order to learn more about the plight of honeybees and ways to support local populations of pollinators.

[Photo credit: (cc) Greg Wagoner]

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