Plan Bee

This is Passport to Texas

Once twin sisters Markley and Louisa Ehrlich (UR-lick), seniors at Austin High in Austin, learned about colony collapse disorder—a phenomenon that causes the death of honeybee colonies—they wanted to do something to help.

05—So, I decided to call Texas Parks and Wildlife and they connected me with him.

“Him” is invertebrate biologist, Michael Warriner. Markley says they originally wanted to build a hive for European honeybees as a class project. But Warriner suggested an alternative.

05—I steered them more toward making bee blocks in that it helps native bees.

Native bees do not use hives or make honey. Some, called solitary bees, will use the bee blocks—hefty pieces of untreated lumber drilled with holes—in which to lay their eggs. Louisa Ehrlich says bee blocks are safe in suburban backyards as solitary bees won’t defend their nests; plus, they’re an asset to agriculture.

07—And so, it really surprised me that there were these local solitary bees that, in fact, are heavier pollinators than the honeybees.

In a one acre orchard, for example, two hundred solitary bees are more effective pollinators than 10,000 European honey bees. The girls, with the help of their brother, made and marketed two dozen bee nesting blocks. They’re donating the money they raise to pollinator conservation through the Houston Zoo.

Make your own bee block. Find out how at For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

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