Having bees can increase crop yield by up to 70%, so the conservancy hopes gardens that host them will yield more fresh produce to feed their communities.
Habitat loss and pesticide use are driving factors behind the decline of global bee populations. Creating habitats for bees is a great way to protect bees and boost food security, so The Bee Conservancy is giving out hundreds of free bee homes to groups across the US and Canada in hopes of supporting the one in four North American native bee species that are currently at risk of extinction.
The conservancy’s Sponsor-A-Hive program is distributing 500 bee homes to community-focused organizations that support food growth, education, or ecological conservation. The homes were designed by woodworker Cornelius Schmid and are built with sustainably sourced wood and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified.
The program is not only designed to increase bee populations, but it also works to improve localized food security. Research shows that having bees in a community farm or garden can increase crop yield by up to 70 percent, so the conservancy hopes that gardens that host the homes will in turn yield more fresh produce to feed their communities.
While honey bees live in large hives, most native bees prefer a more solitary life and live underground or in holes found in wood or reeds. The bee homes replicate these natural environments with wooden tubes for nesting and landing boards for bees to rest on while carrying food or pollen.
200 of the homes have already been distributed, but applications are being accepted online until the end of April for the remaining 300. The bee homes also come with educational materials about the importance of bees in our world and what other steps can be taken to protect pollinators.