West Seattle Bee Garden about to buzz into existence – with your help, and then a parade!

March 13, 2013 at 2:12 pm | In Gardening, How to help, West Seattle news | 27 Comments

(Lauren Englund in photo from May 2012 WSB story)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

When we first introduced you to Lauren Englund in May of last year, she had an idea – saving honey bees through education, by setting up an educational/observational hive – and needed help to make the dream come true.

It’s a dream with an underpinning of urgency – without bees, our lives are at risk.

Now – after community meetings, and a blossoming group of helpers (including Christine Bartels, at left in our photo above with Lauren on the right) – the dream is close to reality, in the form of the West Seattle Bee Garden, set to launch next to the High Point Commons Park P-Patch with a parade this May.

Right now, though, the next stage needs even more help – and that’s where you come in.

Part of it involves crowdfunding, through an IndieGoGo campaign that’s under way, to augment the Department of Neighborhoods matching-fund grant that’s helping fuel the project, as well as rallying volunteers for upcoming work parties.

We talked with Lauren at the Bee Garden site one recent gray, chilly day. The bees’ future home was only timber in the ground, but she painted a bright picture of the pollination garden that will bloom in this area east of the future bee enclosure:

And she rhapsodized about the expected visits from students and community members finding out about bees’ crucial role in our ecosystem.

The framework that’s there now will house the bees’ home as well as observation areas and informational features. They might even have webcams so people can check in online. The entryway to the garden will have a two-sided mosaic.

The stars of the show of course will be the bees themselves, which will come from local beekeepers, will arrive in style, with a community parade. There will be two hives for starters – “local genes, local DNA, no chemicals, no pesticides.”

What the West Seattle Bee Garden needs right now is “dollars, and bodies,” says Lauren – help in the form of work-party participation in April and May, starting April 6th – sign up here – and donations to the IndieGoGo campaign – do that here. You can get in on pavers to be placed in the garden, at a certain donation level, as well as other contribution rewards, as is typical in the crowdfunding world. (Check them out on the right side of the IndieGogo page.)

The High Point Neighborhood Association is sponsoring the picnic and parade that will celebrate the bees’ arrival at 11 am May 19th – with a marching band leading the way! The bees will be marched in, in a sealed container, as part of a festival-like atmosphere – Lauren expects games, arts, crafts, even food trucks all around the park.

The festival is only the beginning – then, the first summer of bee-watching, bee-tending, pollination, and education will begin. Lauren hopes the West Seattle Bee Garden will teach people about pesticides, and how they affect bees (among other beneficial insects) – it’s not as simple as it seems when you grab a product off the shelf at a store. And it’ll be an opportunity for people to learn other things about bees – why they swarm, for example.

Nearby West Seattle Elementary is already involved in the project and other schools are welcome to join, she adds – including being part of the parade.

P.S. Here’s the plant list so far for the pollination garden; Lauren notes that it’s “specific to good pollinators for honey bees,” but they hope to incorporate plants that also are conducive to “butterflies, mason bees, hummingbirds, bumblebees, etc.”

Hellebore (late winter)
Crocus (late winter)
Witch Hazel (late winter)
Iris (spring)
Oregon Grape (spring)
Alpine Strawberry (spring)
Japanese Snowbell Tree (summer)
Chives (summer)
Lupine (summer)
Echinacea (summer)
Bee Balm (summer)
Black Eyed Susan (summer)
Geranium Sanguineum (summer)
Borage (summer)
Asters (late summer)

She hopes that eventually, there will be plants to bloom year-round. But again, it’s time now to jump in and help – work-party signups here, contributions here, and if you have questions or ideas – e-mail westseattlebeegarden@gmail.com, and check the website, which includes a photo gallery, FAQ, and updates.

27 Comments

  1. Will the hives be tamper proof to keep the poor bees from being bothered by uncaring vandals?

    Comment by pigeonmom — 2:25 pm March 13, 2013 #

  2. Yes, the bees will be safely locked inside a primarily transparent enclosure – to protect both people and bees (and comply with Seattle Municipal Code :)

    Comment by Lauren — 3:18 pm March 13, 2013 #

  3. SO excited. And thanks for sharing the plant list for other bee-lovers to borrow!

    Comment by Kelly — 3:50 pm March 13, 2013 #

  4. I saw a bee the other day when it was bright and sunny!

    Comment by AJP — 5:32 pm March 13, 2013 #

  5. I saw the expansion of the p-patch a couple weeks ago and didn’t realize what was going on. This is very cool. I can’t wait to see it go in and I’ll for sure come out and help dig the holes.

    Comment by Jesse — 6:10 pm March 13, 2013 #

  6. Yeah as someone who didn’t get one single pear last year because we didn’t have any bee’s. I am wondering how far away from their hive do they pollunate? So excited about your project.

    Comment by Sillygoose — 6:55 pm March 13, 2013 #

  7. Right-O! Stellar project.

    Comment by Rusty Olson — 7:04 pm March 13, 2013 #

  8. Honey bees go stark raving happy when poppies are in bloom. I have counted as many as ten to a single flower. I swear it.

    Comment by Honey Bees — 7:15 pm March 13, 2013 #

  9. P.S. Lauren,

    Keep up your great work. I love you for it and NEVER use any pesticide that will harm bees in my garden. Ever. If I can’t grow a flower, vegetable, shrub, or tree without the use of pesticides, I will not grow it in my garden. Period.

    Comment by Honey Bees — 7:19 pm March 13, 2013 #

  10. What a great addition to our community! Thank you for your vision and efforts, Christine and Lauren, and welcome bees!

    Comment by Katy Walum — 7:52 pm March 13, 2013 #

  11. Congrats, Lauren!

    Comment by i'mcoveredinbees — 8:00 pm March 13, 2013 #

  12. Don’t forget dandelions! They are an excellent source of pollen in early spring, just when needed, as other good pollen sources are scarce.

    Comment by LivesInWS — 8:29 pm March 13, 2013 #

  13. Way to go Lauren, a community leader in bloom. FYI the website link at the end of the story takes you to the Highpoint Neighborhood page, and I couldn’t find any pics there. Is that the correct link?

    Comment by Good beehavior — 9:07 pm March 13, 2013 #

  14. Thanks, Tbondu, fixing. I have linked the westseattlebeegarden.com page earlier in the story (as well as the Indiegogo page for donations and doodle page for signing up for work parties) but must have accidentally re-linked the HP Neighborhood site, which was only supposed to appear where I reference the neighborhood association. – TR

    Comment by WSB — 9:32 pm March 13, 2013 #

  15. My personal experience is with honey bees. The dudes find some great flowers, such as poppies, and the whole tribe finds out soon. They then nail them for all they are worth, and keep coming back until the last poppies bloom. Stark raving cool. Amazing, to say the least. I have to say poppies produce the best results. And, I am not talking the tiny, small California poppy. I am talking about papaver somniferum. Legal. If you don’t process them for opium. I see them all over West Seattle. The honey bees love them like liebfraumilch.

    Comment by Honey Bees — 10:05 pm March 13, 2013 #

  16. Awesome project! Thanks for all your hard work!!

    Comment by Rvesdocs — 10:25 pm March 13, 2013 #

  17. I am excited to share this project with the families whom I care for. I have a daycare and we just finished today our two week pre-k curriculum topic, all about the honey bee. I believe we have nine young west seattlelites who won’t fear the honey bee.

    Comment by Pollywogsplayschool — 11:43 pm March 13, 2013 #

  18. Thanks for your hard work and dedication to this project, Lauren!
    I know it may sound weird, but I actually kinda have a soft spot for honey bees. :)
    I read a disturbing headline of an article on Facebook yesterday that claimed they’ve ultimately decided that cell phones ARE the cause of colony collapse…if that’s true, we’re in BIG trouble.

    Comment by anti-obstruction — 12:06 am March 14, 2013 #

  19. Great Job Lauren and Thanks WSB for covering this amazing community project!

    Comment by laura b — 7:27 am March 14, 2013 #

  20. To Sillygoose (and others with fruit trees): We have had Orchard Mason Bees for about 15 years and they are great pollinators for our fruit trees. They don’t sting, either. Google them. You can get bee tubes right now at Wild Birds Unlimited. And here is a link on instructions for building your own bee house:

    http://seattletimes.com/html/homegarden/2012209501_digginbees26.html

    But hurry! They will be hatching soon.

    Comment by Mike — 9:01 am March 14, 2013 #

  21. P.S. Great project, Lauren. We have donated and good luck!

    Comment by Mike — 9:22 am March 14, 2013 #

  22. Thank you Mike,

    I ordered a mason bee house last week, and it will be here any day! We will also have a butterfly house, and are planning a butterfly release at the picnic. Yay pollinators!

    Comment by Lauren — 9:30 am March 14, 2013 #

  23. Sent to Connecticut from beginner gardener/environmentalist in West Seattle. Send bees to his garden! Fascinating project, good luck! Mom, park employee in Ct.

    Comment by Jane Golding — 9:46 am March 14, 2013 #

  24. I just tried to contribute through Indiegogo site and it was working properly. :( wouldn’t display to go to next page/pay.

    Comment by Deb — 3:19 pm March 14, 2013 #

  25. Should we go around the neighborhood of the bee garden and ask people not to use pesticides to help protect our little friends? Or will they stay safely in the confines of the garden?

    Comment by WS Steve — 5:01 pm March 14, 2013 #

  26. Honey bees have a 3 miles foraging radius, so they will definitely find food sources outside of the garden. I think polite pesticide education is always a good idea.

    Comment by Lauren — 12:03 am March 15, 2013 #

  27. We could use some help with fundraising. We look for local sponsors to donate money for build material. We offer a name on a sign in the bee garden in exchange and public presence at the Bee parade and picnic. Please email us to westseattlebeegarden@gmail.com if you have ideas or want to sponsor this great project. And please spread the word and donate to our indiegogo campaign: igg.me/at/pollinationgarden

    Comment by ChristineB — 10:49 pm March 20, 2013 #

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