Keene Sentinel Bee House Article

 “Study hard what interests you the most in the most undisciplined, irreverent and original manner possible.”  Richard P. Feynman

 

Please Note:

 

A CRITICALLY IMPORTANT FACT

WAS OVERLOOKED IN THE ARTICLE:

 

WHEN TO HARVEST JAPANESE KNOTWEED STEMS

 

THE STEMS MUST BE CUT IN WINTER

WHEN THEY ARE COMPLETELY DEAD AND NONVIABLE

 from late December until early April here in southern New Hampshire.

 

Live Japanese knotweed has the ability to develop

new plants from tiny fragments of the stem

if they come in contact with the ground.

5th-graders Kaleb Lawrence, left, and Riley Leining partner up on the construction of their bee houses. The bee houses were bulit under the guidance of Michael Nerrie, chief environmental observer of Distant Hill Gardens in Walpole.
5th-graders Kaleb Lawrence, left, and Riley Leining partner up on the construction of their bee houses.

BEE HOUSE BUILDING WITH LOCAL 5TH-GRADERS

 

Keene Sentinel Article

Posted: Sunday, April 10, 2016 

 

 

While there’s no sofa and TV, local 5th-graders made comfortable homes for some bees to lay their eggs. Dori Ferreira and Hillary Robinson’s classes at Vilas Middle School in Alstead constructed houses for the grade-A pollinators Tuesday.

The students were led by Michael Nerrie, the Chief Environmental Observer (CEO) of Distant Hill Gardens in Walpole, an environmental and horticultural learning center.

 

Each bee house, which went home with the students, was made of five pieces of wood and essentially looked like a tiny house.

The students relished the opportunity to pound nails into the wood with a hammer when making the houses for Mason bees and other reed-nesting native bees, all important pollinators. Without pollinators, many plants can’t reproduce and the production of crops would fall off, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

 

They swung exuberantly and often even before Nerrie was finished giving directions. The noise from the symphony of hammers reverberated around the room. “It was fun,” said 5th-grader Ella Stewart. She especially enjoyed adding in the nails. Classmate Grace St. Pierre agreed.

 

“I loved building the bee house,” she said.

 

Fifth-grader Brody Stone squeezes in one more piece of Japanese knotweed stalk into the bee house he constructed at Vilas Middle School on Tuesday under the guidance of Michael Nerrie, chief environmental observer of Distant Hill Gardens in Walpole.
Fifth-grader Brody Stone squeezes in one more piece of Japanese knotweed stalk into his bee house.

Students were also able to use an invasive plant species for a good cause. Once the houses were nailed together, the students stuffed approximately 6-inch tubes of Japanese knotweed inside, to the point where they wouldn’t fall out if turned upside down

 

Bees can fit between four and six eggs inside each tube, according to Nerrie. He said bees will fill a tube with mud and stick in an egg along with nectar and honey before stacking more mud on top and repeating the process until the tube is full.

 

Bringing Nerrie in was a coordinated effort between the school and the Alstead Conservation Commission, which have worked together on special projects such as this for 15 years.

 

Later this month, the school will have a joint celebration of Arbor Day and Earth Day with the conservation commission.

 

Sarah Webb and Marilou Blaine of the commission were in the classroom Tuesday to watch the students.

 

“I like to see their enthusiasm and their focus and interest in doing what they’re doing,” Webb said. Ferreira said the conservation commission is a valuable resource for the school and a good way to connect with the community. In the fall, the 5th-graders learned to identify trees with the commission and always look forward to these kinds of projects.

 

“The kids knew they were coming (on Tuesday) and were so excited,” Ferreira said.