A Tale of Two School Yards and Bees

A week or so ago, I got an interesting story from the Xerxes society (for those that don’t know this wonderful group, they do work with pollinator and invertebrate conservation.  Their web site can be found here!) about a school yard in Portland Oregon that had embraced its ground nesting bees. They went so far to nickname the gentle bees “tickle bees” for the way they felt when they were held in the hand!

You can read more about Sabin Elementary and their “Tickle bees” here!

Not only did this story warm my heart and illustrate everything that I’ve been trying to say about bees but it sadly brought to mind the hysteria of my own local school boards when dealing with ground nesting bees. As you can well imagine, the parents immediately demanded insecticides, and threatened lawsuits when that wasn’t immediately done for fear that someone–anyone–might get stung!

As I indicated Friday, if we all didn’t behave as if we were trying to signal a fleet of 747s every time a flying insect (or even better, a most precious bat) came into our presence, there would be a lot less need for poisons and death.

If you’d like to read the sad reaction of the school in question, that can be found here. Interestingly enough, this was about the last of the articles I found because of course the bees were already gone for the season, despite the hysterical reactions of the parents. It will be interesting to see if they come back this year (as they most likely will) and if anyone has managed to talk any sense into any of these parents.

We have cicada killer wasps that return to our church every summer. There are notices in our church Bulletin about it every summer (despite the fact that the Bulletin calls them “Hermit bees.” I kind of like that better, actually. It sounds far less threatening!) We all behave as adults–even the children–about it. Last year I saw one father stopping to watch them with his son.

As someone who has had a cicada killer nesting on my own property for years, I know that while they can look intimidating, they don’t sting–or again, I have no idea what you need to do to them to get them to sting you.  Ours nested in the walkway to our home and got a bit feisty if we wanted to use it.  I would merely walk by, greeting the wasp in question with a “Hello Goldie” as I walked by.

Sometimes a little politeness goes a long way–even with bees & wasps.

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2 thoughts on “A Tale of Two School Yards and Bees

  1. I find it ironic that the school in the second article happens to be located in a town that I once considered moving to, but decided against it after I discovered that within its borders are: 19 Superfund sites, 4 polluters, 10 fuel tanks/spills, and one brownfield. So I guess the parents are okay with living in proximity to environmental toxicity but they won’t tolerate a few bees? It is sad indeed.

  2. Your comment says something very important about immediate threat versus the “I’ll think about that tomorrow,” or the Scarlett O’Hara mentality. Perhaps some of those parents even work at some of those polluters–who knows? Because when it comes to most of the environmental threats you mentioned, they are not “visible.” Folks like yourself would have to do research. And while we readily research the quality of the school system before we buy a home, I’m willing to bet most folks don’t research the much more serious environmental threats to both their own health and the health of their children. Perhaps someday.

    Thanks for your extremely perceptive comment!

    Karla

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