April 29, 2020
Adventure coordinator Heather shares her story about building bee boxes for Alberta’s native pollinators:
Our family has been involved with the Climb For Wilderness for as long as I can remember. I have been participating and volunteering with the climb since I was in high school back in the ‘90s. It was always a highlight for me to raise awareness with my friends and co-workers about the Alberta Wilderness Association and they were always happy to support me to do the climb by giving generous donations. Back then, climbing the stairs of a skyscraper was kind of a crazy idea! Often I would get asked “Do you climb up the outside?”.
Over the years, the climb evolved including a poetry competition, stairwell painting and even changing venues. Our daughter inspired her classmates, friends and their families to join in the fun and we often had a group of 10-20 people join us to participate in the climb every year. It was a fun and educational event that just always happened.
When we got the news the climb would not be going ahead this year and the AWA was needing to adapt the event – we were shocked. And of course we wanted to know how we could support the AWA as the climb had always been their major fundraiser.
The Adventures for Wilderness was born out of an idea of having people become actively involved in the splendor Alberta has to offer. Building an adventure for Adventures for Wilderness has been an adventure in itself! Our family had been learning about Alberta’s Native Bees and thought maybe this would be a good starting point for an activity where participants could make bee boxes that are appropriate for Alberta’s native bee populations. And it is always fun to do a scavenger hunt so why not incorporate technology and do a GPS scavenger hunt around our coulees in Edgemont? What a fun afternoon that would be – Pollinator Power! But I knew we would need help. Enter Dan Olson – carpenter extraordinaire! We needed a blueprint for a bee box and the materials to make them. He took the challenge and as you can see from the photos, the result is amazing. What bee wouldn’t want to live in one of these?
But as February turned into March a pandemic was sweeping across the world and Alberta. We knew we would have to change the event as social distancing became the new norm. I learned how to use a drill press and a hand router. Dan and I built 48 bee boxes over the course of a few days – keeping our 6ft distance, of course.
The event Pollinator Power! turned into a social distance success. For a minimum $50 donation a hand made bee box would be delivered to your doorstep – with all funds going straight to the AWA! Bee boxes started flying out the door. People are excited to invite native pollinators into their gardens and support the AWA.
Pollinators perform an extremely important job and Alberta’s Native Bees need our help. By putting a bee box in your garden, you are making a difference. Even the smallest yard or balcony can welcome native bees. If you have a bee box in your garden, you can also participate in a citizen science project with the Alberta Native Bee Council to help them gather data. They will even come to your home to collect the nest if your box is colonized. The more bee boxes we have the better it will be for all of Alberta’s native flora and fauna. In fact, as I write this, we only have 17 bee boxes left! We are looking forward to next year, hoping we can go with the original plan of gathering, learning, building and having fun together. But for now, enjoy the quieter world and hear the bees.
Coordinator for Pollinator Power!