Wait… A “hotel,” for bees?

By Andrea Gaines

This article will lift up your spirits; I promise.

You know the term “worker bees” … right? Creatures – human and otherwise – who toil away behind the scenes, getting everything done for everyone else.

Well, our live worker bees, including the ones you see buzzing around your yard and garden this time of year, need some help. And, a very generous local company is happy to assist. 

Welcome to the JK Community Farm

JK Moving Services has been around for a long time. You know the name.

It handles local moves in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. And, with respect to international moves, it’s the company that “U.S. presidents and Fortune 500 companies, trust …”

The community farm that the company established three years ago is designed to “provide food education and alleviate food insecurity with nutrient-dense produce and protein.”

It’s 150 acres are operated in a regenerative, sustainable, chemical-free manner, growing over 50 varieties of vegetables, fruits, protein and herbs – on 14 acres of outdoor fields, two high tunnels, one greenhouse, and 14 raised beds. The harvest is picked up by … food pantry partners.

According to the company, “The JK Community Farm is the nation’s largest chemical-free nonprofit farm donating 100 percent” of what is grown.

Welcome to the JK Community Farm bee hotel 

As JK’s blog noted in January – so, so, cute and informative – the farm is on a mission to grow the populations of endangered bees, and, to educate people about their importance – to nature, to the environment, and to the economy.

Notes the blog: “We have seven beautiful, colorful honeybee hives at the JK Community Farm. Our beekeeper, George often uses the bees from our hives to help grow the honeybee population in Loudoun County.”

Honeybees have been affected by a condition called colony collapse disorder, which is killing off large numbers of honeybees.

Many pollinator populations are in decline attributed to a loss in feeding and nesting habitats. This, explains the blog, is why a “bee hotel” can be so useful and helpful for the insect. Native bees nest in hollow logs, dead trees and in the ground.

If you have snowdrops, or crocuses, or other early spring flowers on your property, you may see these insects out right now, searching for food.

“With construction, and limited conservation efforts,” according to JK: “Native bees have fewer places to nest. By creating special nesting sites like bee hotels, you can accommodate many different species of bees …”

Bee hotels often attract mason bees, orchard bees, and leaf cutter bees, places for solitary bees to build their nests. These bees do not make honey, or live in a hive. These native bees are referred to as solitary bees because once the female mates, she is on her own. These bees do not have a hive structure or work as a team like honey bees.

Be hotels need to be located in southern-exposures and sunny places, engineered to a particular size, preserve certain levels of moisture within (like a natural log would have), be kept free of mold, offer protection, and ways to get in and out, and so on.

The bees know how to do things, you see, and, the bee hotel needs to replicate their needs – give them what they need to thrive and survive.

The time is now

As JK said in its recent blog: “Solitary bees nest in the spring and early summer, so until then … we wait! … and, hopefully, bees will arrive! We invite you to join us at the JK Community Farm this season to watch for their arrival.”

The farm is located on Paxson Road, in Round Hill; and their website is JKCommunityFarm.org.

Farmer Mike, as he is called, is allergic to bees. So, he makes clear, “… it is very unlikely for you to be stung by a solitary bee, unless you step on them barefoot or try to swat at them.”

For more information

With a grant from Microsoft, the farm has been able to build a bee hotel – a special nesting site to draw more species of bees to help with pollinating. The six-by six-foot hotel will be a part of the farm’s future food education nature walk. The farm will know when the first guests check in, since the bees create a mud door to cover the entrance.

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