By Myra Klockenbrink
Twenty-one cub scouts from pack 20 and Cubmaster, Chris Asmis, partnered with Greenwich Pollinator Pathway on Sunday to build a new luxury hotel for a special V.I.P. clientele. The hotel was erected at the North Street pollinator garden adjacent to the North Street School and included luxury suites for some of our most hardworking local residents – bees, spiders and beneficial insects.
Honey bees are social insects. They live and work together in hives and make honey. Solitary bees, on the other hand, make their living on their own and live in the ground or in hollow plant stalks or other crevices in the landscape. Because many people are afraid of bees, use pesticides, or are overly fastidious about cleaning up their yards, our solitary bees are finding there is a housing shortage for insects like them.
Greenwich Pollinator Pathway recognized this tight market and appropriated a portion of their 30,000 square foot pollinator garden for the construction of this nine-story high-rise. Wood pallets that were heat-treated, rather than doused with chemicals, were collected in collaboration with the Department of Parks & Recreation. Together with Pack 20 and Felix Desmond, a volunteer from Greenwich Rye Country Day School, materials were gathered that are friendly to beneficial insects and solitary bees, such as mason bees, which lay their eggs along with pollen and nectar in mud-sealed cells in tubes or dry flower stalks. Scouts brought leaves, dried flowers, moss, hay and other plant matter, while Greenwich Pollinator Pathway provided cored bricks, broken flower pots, bamboo stalks and birch logs drilled with holes.
Scouts learned about the difference between honey bees, mason bees and other important insects. Mason bees are superior pollinators and successfully pollinate most every flower they visit, while the social honey bee with its more prim behavior only pollinates about one in eight flowers.
This exclusive hotel is residence for hover flies, which need straw and pine cones for their shelter. Lady bugs like sticks and twigs, while ground beetles prefer rocks, bricks and bark mulch. Lacewings aren’t fussy and make do with cardboard, but parasitic wasps like dried hollow stems and holes drilled in wood. Praying mantis prefer sticks and leaves and assassin bugs live among bark and sticks. Scouts were reminded that while spiders aren’t insects, but rather members of the arachnid family, they do important work in the landscape and can be found among the leaf litter and fallen logs. All these native bugs are critical to the health of our flowering plants and help to balance the ecosystem so that no one bug takes over and unwanted, invader bugs are kept at bay.
Scouts were quick to notice the first guests for the hotel. Woolly caterpillars were only too happy to take up residence, one claiming the highly sought-after penthouse suite.
Said one scout, “This guy can be the hotel manager!”