When it comes to bees, most of us understand that their population is in serious jeopardy—but the bees that we largely focus on is honey bees. Grade 10 student Simran Jolly, founder of The Solitary Bee Project, is urging us to readjust our focus toward solitary bees. These bees are the main source of pollination in naturalized areas but their population is threatened by deforestation and mass pesticide use. The Solitary Bee Project strives to increase their population by raising awareness of the struggles facing solitary bees. Jolly’s efforts have so far resulted in the installation of “bee boxes”, which provides a safe place for bees to lay eggs, in five Mississauga parks.
With the impressive amount of green space on campus, Jolly set her sights on McMaster University for her latest project. After receiving approval from President Deane, Jolly reached out to the Office of Academic Sustainability and Facility Services and set to work.
Carpenters in Facility Services pre-fabricated materials for 50 bee boxes. On the morning of Saturday, June 1st, students and community members gathered outside the Student Centre to finish construction of the bee boxes as McMaster’s initiative for 100In1Day Hamilton. The bee boxes were filled with either bamboo, paper, cork, twigs, or a mixture of each to facilitate nesting habitats for solitary bees. The bee boxes were then installed by Facility Services carpenters throughout the campus. The goal is to monitor the bee boxes in order to assess which of the materials provides a better growth environment for larvae. This will be part of student course-work in the coming academic year.
The pervading feeling that participants had on Saturday morning was a sense of surprise that solitary bees received so little attention, despite being such an important pollinator. Fortunately, the bee boxes helped to improve that. This 100In1Day initiative, in partnership with The Solitary Bee Project, demonstrated the power of community engagement and the importance of inspiring change.
This initiative could not have succeeded without the valued help of the McMaster Outdoor Club and Dr. Susan Dudley.
Students can find the bee boxes at several locations across campus, as indicated below.
All photo credits: Reta Meng