The Latest Buzz | Carson Tahoe Health

Local Organizations Collaborate to Build Bee Hotel

It’s not easy ‘beeing’ green.

Or is it?

We’ve teamed up with several other Carson City entities to ensure pollinators have an extra cozy place to land this spring. The Carson City Chamber Leadership class has chosen the development (from the planning to the populating) of a bee habitat at our very own Foothill Garden.

“Bee populations are declining at an alarming rate,” says Christopher Gray, Carson City Leadership team member. “Since 1 in every 3 bites of food we eat is courtesy of insect pollination, our class decided on a project that would reflect Carson City’s important commitment to the health of bee populations and therefore, the health of our community.”

In addition to the newly established bee hotel, Foothill Garden, whose theme is ‘Bee Well and Thrive”, will soon be home to a planned pollinator garden. Carson City Parks, Recreation, and Open Space is working with regional experts to plan drought-resistant flora to help attract pollinators and truly enrich the area.

“Carson Tahoe is happy to be the site for this innovative community project,” says Michelle Joy, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Carson Tahoe Health. “We’re in the business of healthcare, but wellness, prevention through nutrition, and the sustainability of natural foods should be a part of that conversation. We think healthcare is also about giving people the tools to maintain good health.”

It takes a village

The Foothill Garden, nestled among the foothills behind the Carson Tahoe Cancer Center, was established in 2017 as a model for sustainability in growing organic produce and educating future gardeners; allowing us to donate the bounty to the food insecure in our community. The site also serves as host to community garden classes, year-round.

The Greenhouse Project, an agriculture/education-based non-profit and another key player in the Foothill Garden, will manage the habitat, primarily observing the colonization and health of the pollinator residents.

“The bee hotel and the associated pollinator garden will assist us in continuing to nurture a healthy ecosystem onsite,” says Will Pierz, Assistant Manager at The Greenhouse Project. “In addition to providing pollination services for the garden, many pollinator species also prey upon common garden pests (often in the larval or nymph stages). We rely heavily on these insect allies to allow us to grow healthy produce without pesticides.”

Although there are nearly 4,000 species of bees in North America, only 1,000 are native to Nevada, and of that 1,000 the leadership class chose a gentle leaf cutter bee (genus Megachile) to occupy its new bee sanctuary. This particular species serves the crucial role of pollinator, but acts solitarily so each bee individually builds a small nest in the different holes (or rooms) of the house. The leaf cutter bee was also chosen because it does not exhibit signs of aggression, making it more suitable for a community space.

Looking forward

Once complete, the bee hotel will act as one cog in the “well-nurtured” machine that is the Foothill Garden. All the organizations involved hope the space will serve the community in a multitude of ways.

“Increased pollinator health benefits a community’s food supply, ecological resources, and furthermore, its people,” says Kelsey Stalker, Community Education Coordinator with Carson City Parks, Recreation, and Open Space. “This site will also be able to host many different educational events for gardening, pollinator education, and interpretive hikes for people of all ages. Members of the community will be able to learn about the importance of pollination, enjoy the beauty of the garden, and be able to recreate in one of Carson City’s most beautiful outdoor spaces.”

Mark your calendar

Part of the impetus for this project was a recent designation – Carson City was named the 78th Bee City USA by the Xerces Society – the only city with that designation in Nevada. To celebrate this and the completion of their project, Carson City Leadership will work with involved parties to host an “open garden” during the week of June 16, 2019 in honor of Pollinator Week.

To learn more about the details for the event, the Foothill Garden, bee hotel, and upcoming garden classes, please visit here.