Wild bee populations in the United States face catastrophic collapse from climate change, habitat loss, shrinking food supply, disease and pesticide exposure. Of the 4,000 native U.S. wild bee species, 40 percent face extinction. To help save these vital pollinators, a Denver-based Girls Scouts day camp built miniature hotels to house and protect solitary wild bees. The sustainable endeavor was part of the Think Like a Citizen Scientist Journey initiative, encouraging young girls to create positive environmental change.

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Making a wild bee B&B proved to be an exciting learning experience for many Girl Scouts. “There were times it was hard because there were so many girls and lots of ideas, but we worked together, and it was fun,” explained 11-year-old Imani, one of the girls who participated in the project. “We found a way to compromise and work together to make a fun bee hotel.”

Related: Girl Scouts introduces 30 new badges with emphasis on the environment and STEM

two Girl Scouts members smiling next to a handmade bee hotel on a fence

As solitary insects, wild bees house themselves in fallen timber, branches and bushes. But forest fires, urban sprawl and agricultural intensification have diminished their natural habitat. Consequently, the Girl Scouts were inspired to protect these important insects by building tiny homes or mini hotels for individual wild bees, much like birdhouses are fashioned for individual birds. Materials used for the bee hotels included repurposed cardboard boxes, paper straws and toilet paper rolls.

According to the Entomological Society of America, campaigns to save the bees have included installation of bee hotels in efforts to save wild bee populations and aid in their conservation. If well maintained, these bee hotels can provide a safe sanctuary for wild bees.

Dennis vanEngelsdorp, a University of Maryland, College Park associate professor of entomology, added that every effort counts, and the Girl Scouts’ endeavors are meaningful. “What you’re seeing is that you need bees to survive, and so who better to be concerned than the people who are going to inherit the next generation?” he shared. “These efforts are really good because hopefully they set up a lifelong commitment to preserving biodiversity.”

Those interested in getting involved with the Girl Scouts’ environmental initiatives can join or volunteer here.

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Via Grist

Images via Girl Scouts and Maja Dumat