Questions and answers with the creators of the Beestra bee nursery
Magazine 417: How did you start to make bee nurseries?
Ames Chilis: It was really daddy’s idea to start. He’s a voracious reader, and he had read at one point that people were more and more aware of the plight of bees, so trying to do something they set up all these bee hotels. And the thing with bee hotels is that the vast majority of them on the market are actually a lot more harmful to bees than if you hadn’t done anything at all because they’re so poorly designed. . They are made to please people and not be safe for bees. It’s this huge epidemic of people setting up these horribly designed bee houses, thinking they were doing something right but actually doing something terrible. We wanted to meet these people and do something to help them help the bees in a safe and efficient way.
417: Can you explain what a bee nursery is and how they are used?
THAT : There are about 4,000 different species of bees in the United States and there are about 400 species native to Missouri alone and a fairly small percentage of these, but still a large number of bees, nest in the bad grasses or in stems, so they look for tubes in nature like hollow reeds, blackberry brambles in which they nest. Because a lot of these habitats have been destroyed, we’re trying to replicate that with our tubes … You just set it up in a place near a lot of flowers, because that’s where the bees like to hang out, and then over of their pollination season, they will look for tubes.
417: What did you and your father like most about working as a father-daughter team?
THAT : We work really well together, we are very honest with each other so there is a lot of back and forth. We’re both very creative people, sometimes we run into each other because of that. We also really like the design aspect of it. I like it when something is wrong because then I can fix it. Problem solving and the need to be creative to make a product as good as possible really appeal to me.
417: How important are native bees to our environment?
THAT : Studies have estimated that around 1 in 3 bites of food is caused by native bees. They are so important for the pollination of all our plants. Native bees are so important because they are multitudes of times more efficient than honey bees. Just having a few native bees on your property will be so much more useful for the pollination of your plants … Bees are incredible pollinators for many things, one of which is alfalfa which is the primary food source for livestock. We can talk about the fact that if you didn’t have native bees, you wouldn’t have blueberries, almonds, cucumbers, or whatever, but you wouldn’t have beef either. People would never have put this together, but it’s true they are so important to our entire food chain.