"Bee Hotel" Unveiled at Pollinator Party

SVT Members Help Build Bee Hotel at our Pollinator Party.
SVT Members Help Build Bee Hotel at our Pollinator Party.

On Saturday, July 16, SVT held a Pollinator Party at our Wolbach Farm headquarters to celebrate our year-long “Places for Pollinators” project.

Guests helped build a "bee hotel" on the SVT grounds, took a trail walk, and then enjoyed snacks and beverages that result from the hard work of pollinators. Items on the snack table included apples and apple juice, cranberries and cranberry juice, bananas, almonds, cashews, apricots, and blackberry juice.

Younger attendees enjoyed painting pictures of pollinators and seeking out bees and butterflies in our gardens.

Jesse Koyen, a MassLIFT-AmeriCorps member who has served at SVT for the past two years, coordinated the Places for Pollinators project and served as host of the party. He explained how SVT has worked to increase the abundance of quality foraging plants and nesting habitat for pollinators on land around the Sudbury River, which is a major migratory corridor for many insects.

Jesse reminded guests that by choosing the right plants and avoiding pesticides, they can also improve pollinator habitats in their own backyards

Guests at the Pollinator Party listen to Jesse Koyen describe SVT's year-long Pollinator Project.The Places for Pollinators project was partially funded through a $3,000 grant from The Sudbury, Concord & Assabet Wild & Scenic River Stewardship Council, an organization that protects the Sudbury, Assabet, and Concord Rivers and their outstanding resources.

Thanks to the hard work of staff members and dozens of volunteers, the project is already showing signs of success.

To begin, we fought non-native invasive species in the area: We introduced galerucella beetles to feed on purple loosestrife and prevent the plants from maturing and reproducing, and we physically removed plants such as Asiatic bittersweet and glossy buckthorn. These steps created room for native plants to spread and colonize.

Staff and volunteers then planted over 2000 native seedlings at Wolbach Farm and at SVT’s Greenways Reservation in Wayland. For this project, we selected plants that bloom at different times of year, so they provide benefits to pollinators throughout the growing season, from May through October:

  • Pearl Crescent Butterfly on Aster--Dawn Dentzer PhotoSwamp milkweed is a host plant for the caterpillar of the monarch butterfly.
  • Bee balm and clustered mountain mint are valuable nectar sources for many species of insects.
  • New England aster is an excellent nectar source and a host plant of the pearl crescent butterfly (see photo).
  • Turtlehead is a host plant of the Baltimore checkerspot butterfly and a food source for many pollinators including the ruby-throated hummingbird.

Jesse also worked with volunteers to build a “bee hotel” at Wolbach Farm. This open-air structure, which looks like a large bookcase with a roof, holds logs and sticks that provide nesting habitat for solitary bees and wasps.

To create the nesting habitat itself, volunteers drilled holes in logs and sticks collected on SVT reservations. Attendees at the Pollinator Party helped build the hotel by placing natural materials on the structure’s shelves. Because the logs and sticks are easy to replace once they deteriorate, we expect the structure to provide vital nesting habitat for many years.

Stop by Wolbach Farm and check out the bee hotel for yourself. The hotel sits right behind a recently planted patch of native seedlings, so bees and wasps who move in should soon find a bounty of food sources right nearby.