Kicking off National Pollinator Week and the beginning of the summer solstice, the Open Space Visitor Center hosted the Burque Bee City and Pollination Celebration on Sunday.
Cities across the globe are celebrating National Pollinator Week by teaching the public about the benefits of pollinators – and why we can not live without them.
“Every insect, intrinsically every living creature has a job to do here and if we continue to disturb the balance of nature, we’re going to pay, and we are paying,” said Lu Lu Sage, local bee lover.
Sage, who has spent nine years building homes for bees and other pollinators, demonstrated at Saturday’s event how to build a suitable “bee house” – something most people do not recognize as a necessity.
Sage builds homes for bees using wood, bamboo, and other “pithy” materials. Using a thin and very sharp drill bit, she drills holes about two-thirds of the way through a rectangular piece of wood to create a brood chamber for female bees to lay their eggs and store their pollen and nectar.
New Mexico is host to honey bees and over 11,000 different species of native bees. Honey bees are more commonly known and what people traditionally recognize as “bumble bees.”
Native bees – for which Sage constructs homes – are solitary and do not live in hives. The bees burrow in the ground, find abandoned beetle tunnels or live in homes similar to the one Sage constructs.
Across town, the City of Albuquerque Open Space sponsored a local artist who was building a “bee hotel,” which Sage calls “problematic.”
“These are solitary bees,” she said. “You don’t want to congregate tons of bees. Parasites come, disease comes, they spread viruses, they spread disease.”
“I am a realist and a little bit of a pessimist,” she said. “I feel like in certain pockets bees will be okay. There are three factors, climate change because plants are blooming sooner and the bees have to try to catch up, the birds have to try to catch up, everybody has to try to catch up. So climate change is a big thing.”
Pesticides and habitat destruction also have detrimental effects on the pollinator population.
The Open Space, which is home to many native flowers and bees in an effort to preserve their habitat, also saw a number of local honey vendors, storytellers and volunteers.
“There are people all over the Earth who are doing this,” said Regina Ress, who was telling stories about the creatures of the world as a part of a program called Stories to Change the World.
The event was organized by volunteers, one of which was Joelle Collier, who hoped the event was educational and encouraging.
“What we are trying to do is spread the word and get people to...build their own gardens to draw in the pollinators,” Collier said. “...All over this country, in fact all over the world, we are losing pollinators, that is we are losing important insects and birds that help to spread pollen so that our crops can grow. If they go away we lose food, we starve, so we really really need them.”
Celia Raney is the news editor for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Celia_Raney.