(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)
Oregon Grape (spring)
Alpine Strawberry (spring)
Japanese Snowbell Tree (summer)
Bee Balm (summer)
Black Eyed Susan (summer)
Geranium Sanguineum (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 email@example.com, and check the website, which includes a photo gallery, FAQ, and updates.