Solitary bees now have hotel on MU campus thanks to Sustain Mizzou

Bee hotels, places for solitary bees to make their nests, will soon be popping up on the University of Missouri campus. Solitary bees differ from the more well-known honeybee because they are not social insects, meaning they live alone as opposed to together, and most solitary bees don’t make honey. The bee hotels are made by creating hollow tubes or drilling holes in wood, creating an environment similar to what the bees, who nest above ground in holes, would live in.

One of Sustain Mizzou’s projects is beekeeping. The MU student organization has honeybee hives located at Eckles Butterfly Garden, where they meet regularly for hive checkups. The checkups have occurred on specified Sunday’s in the past, but dates for this semester haven’t been set yet due to weather. During the winter, honeybees form a cluster, or clump together, around the queen bee and honey. To safely open a bee hive, the weather must be above 50 degrees Fahrenheit, or else the bees will die because it is too cold.

Megan Tyminski, Sustain Mizzou Beekeeping project leader, told students gathered at an organization meeting this spring, that 40 percent of invertebrate pollinators, like bees, face extinctions. She said monarch butterflies, another pollinator, are also being evaluated for the endangered list. Tyminski credits lack of habitat as the main reason pollinators are going extinct. Recently, the first bumblebee was added to the endangered species list.

“Native bees provide a lot of benefits to our ecosystems and they are also really effective pollinators,” Tyminksi said.

She said that honeybees get headlines, meaning they tend to get more attention than native bees. But there are around 452 other native bees in Missouri that need just as much attention as honeybees.

“Their [native bees] habitat requirements are basically the same as a lot of other wildlife, so when you’re protecting native bees, you’re also protecting quail, songbirds and etc.”

After learning more about native pollinators from Tyminski, students began constructing the bee hotel. Sustain Mizzou Beekeeping provided drills, wood, bee hives, and native seeds for students to use. During construction of the bee hotel, students drilled various sizes of holes in the wood to attract different kinds of native bees, as well as painted honeybee hives, and planted native plant species.

Tyminski said that anyone can have a role in helping save the bee population. People can help by planting native flowers and providing habitat for bees, or by leaving native habitat alone. For instance, using plant species that are native to the area, instead of plants that were introduced to the area from other locations. Dandelions, while the bane of many homeowners lives, are often the first flowers to bloom and provide the first food for bees, which is critical for survival after winter is over.

MU senior, Madelyn Sobey said she enjoyed learning about native plants, something she knew little about previously, and will do her part in planting native flowers in the future.  

Tyminski said she started to learn more about native bees from research school and credits The Bee Book for her inspiration for building a bee hotel.

“Our biggest thing is creating a presence here on campus,” said Brendan Hellebusch, president of Sustain Mizzou. “If people want to see some [sustainability] project that’s not here on campus being done, then it will happen.” 

Hellebusch explained that Tyminski came to Sustain Mizzou with her beekeeping idea back in 2013, and now there are more bees on campus.  

If you are interested in learning more about bees and other pollinators, check out Sustain Mizzou’s upcoming Pollinator Camp on their FaceBook page.

Jacqueline Janorschke

About the Author Jacqueline Janorschke

Years ago, you could find me sporting a shirt that read, “Reading, Writing, Socializing” while attending writing camps during summer break from elementary school. It wasn’t until later that I discovered my passion for agriculture. I joined FFA in high school and I had no idea what life changing experiences I was about to have. FFA led me to create my own business, “Beauty and the Bees,” where I harvest and process honey and beeswax into lip balms and other products. My passion for agriculture and agriculture education brought me to the University of Missouri to major in science and agricultural journalism. I know writing for Corner Post will give me an outlet to communicate with a broad audience about agriculture and I’m excited to see what this semester has in store!