Library Is Lending Out Bees In Special Program That Has People Abuzz With The News

Patrons at a Canadian public library can check out bees along with their books in a unique loaning program that’s catching people’s attention. The West Vancouver Memorial Library in British Columbia lets people take home a mason bee that comes with a bee “bungalow.” People then take care of the bees throughout the year. The educational program focuses on educating people about the basics for beekeeping and helping the environment by raising pollinators.

In its third year, the mason bee house project came about thanks to program organizer Taren Urquhart, who has been raising mason bees for 30 years. Mason bees are different from honey bees, says Urquhart. They are a solitary insect and native to Canada. They don’t make honey but they are “extremely gentle” and easy to raise and help with pollination wherever they are found. “They are fascinating. Once you start learning about them, you’ll get hooked,” she tells the North Shore News. “They are very gentle and easy to raise in your backyard.”

a mason bee bungalow. Taren Urquhart

Participants must first take part in a 60-minute lecture to learn the basics about the bees’ life cycle, how to take care of their bees, and how to keep the bee home clean. Keeping the habitat clean is critical for the bees’ rearing and safety. Taren says the patrons go home with the small “house” that Taren and her dad have designed, which consists of circular grass reed tubes that are inserted into a 10 centimeter piece of plumbing piping. The grass reed tubes hold the mason bee cocoons.

Then you hang the bee home in your backyard or on your apartment balcony (up to three stories). In the spring, Mason bees fill the tubes with their eggs. They also put in nectar and pollen for the babies to eat.

Participants then come back in January for a cocoon washing party. The houses are taken apart and they clean their mason bee cocoons. Everyone is then welcome to bring their cocoons back home to begin a larger bee colony or pass their cocoons on to the next participants. Ten to 15 mason bee cocoons can be borrowed along with the bungalow by a patron. Once the cocoons hatch the life cycle is complete! Watch more about the unique program in the videos below.

Here’s a longer interview with Urquhart about the program.

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