GUADALAJARA, Mexico – Students in the western Mexican state of Jalisco have used natural materials to set up refuges for the endangered wild honey bee population, places where they can safely pollinate flowers.
Youths between ages 17-18 developed these so-called “bee hotels” to protect the wild bees and “make up” a little for the damage humans have done to their nesting places by cutting down trees and spreading city suburbs into the countryside, Lia Quezada, a third year student at Signos High School, told EFE.
“The biggest threat to wild bees is us...it gets harder and harder for them to fly back to the hive every day from where they feed themselves thanks to our meddling with their habitat,” this member of the science and technology workshop said.
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), wild bees are an important element for the pollination of plants and flowers and an indicator of environmental health, while promoting and reflecting biodiversity.
Mexico has almost 2,000 species of this bee that lives in small colonies and is an important pollinator of plants in the wild and even of some crops, Jesus Moreno, a science teacher at Signos and an expert in environmental education, said.
“Modern life and urbanization are quickly destroying the places they can live, as do monocultures and spraying pesticides,” said the teacher, who promotes scientific and ecological studies among his students.
The teens at this high school, located beside the La Primavera Forest near the Jalisco capital of Guadalajara, took workshops and researched for several weeks to acquire a deeper understanding of wild bee reproduction, their importance in the food chain, and the dynamic of their habitat.
Quezada explained that this kind of bee is different from the European honey bee (Apis mellifera), known for being kept in large communities to produce honey.
The wild ones are endemic to countries of the Americas, have no stinger and consequently are not aggressive. They don’t create honeycombs either, and have no social structure, so only a few swarm together.
Besides the “bee hotels” that students and teachers set up at the high school and elsewhere, the project is repeated through free workshops offered by museums and other schools to spread the word on how to construct these refuges and make people want to do so at their own houses.