A local high school student has been as busy as a bee building new “bee hotels,” which you can now find scattered throughout River Prairie in Altoona, as part of his Eagle Scout project.
What the heck are bee hotels, you might ask? They are little house-like buildings that are ideal for solitary bees, such as mason bees – which are native to Wisconsin – as they can lay their eggs in the little holes and safely leave, unlike honeybees that work cooperatively to make and live together in large hives.
Mason bees –and others like them – are not aggressive, meaning they don’t need to defend their hives, according to Keanan VandenBush, a sophomore at Memorial High School in Eau Claire, who created bee hotels as part of his Eagle Scout project.
Keanan will be the 16th Eagle Scout in his family. But, he’s never been the boss of bees before.
“Keanan has always loved being outdoors and being in nature,” said his mom, Kelly VandenBush, in an email. “He loves exploring in the woods and wants to find a way to save the planet. … His grandfather came across an article in a Scouting magazine about bee hotels, and Keanan knew this was what he wanted to do for his Eagle project.”
The project is intended to help increase bee populations locally, as well as to help pollinate the gardens at River Prairie. Signs have also been installed around River Prairie to help educate locals about bees!
“I also want people to see that this is something they can do on their own to help the environment,” Keanan said.
Keanen hopes to work on earning more merit badges as well as helping with younger scouts. In the distant future, he hopes to work in the field of natural sciences.