The BeeChicas, Deborah Foy, Theresa Beck, Tracy Bellehumeur and Cynthia Scott, bonded over their shared passion for beekeeping. Together they formed the BeeChicas and are based out of the Boulder Public Library offering advocacy courses as well as maintaining hives at the library and at home. Their classes are available for children and seniors alike. Their main message: learn to love bees.
Love for the Bees
“Without the bees, we would have nothing, no food, no human survival,” says Deborah Foy. She explains that without our pollinators, 1/3 of our food sources would disappear. The only ones left would be wind-pollinated crops like corn and rice and other nutrient-poor foods. The animals like cows would not survive with no pollinated plants to eat as well. “We are teaching people to love the bees, and not just the honeybees but the native species as well,” says Foy.
Without the native bees, we wouldn’t have native plants and their roots systems that go deep underground interacting with the soil’s ecosystem. Losing that native biodiversity with the loss of bees would contribute to desertification and fire hazards. One BeeChicas-led advocacy course involves sitting in a garden and noticing the bees—if they are honey or native and how many they see. If they see a lot of honey bees, chances are they are close to a nest, but if they see lots of different native species visiting the garden, you know you have great pollinator health.
One important aspect to achieving a healthy, pollinated garden is to ditch the poison. Pesticides kill harmful insects but they also kill the bees and deter any from visiting your plants. Instead, regenerative farming offers a healthy solution for the entire ecosystem. “It’s important for people to stop and consider other ways to manage garden insects, rather than reaching for harmful chemicals that hurt important pollinators. We never advocate for using pesticides, but instead, educate on the roles that all insects have in our ecosystem” says Foy.
Although bee education is important year-round, the BeeChicas are especially busy during swarm season April 15—June 15. During this time, the queen bee will leave her nest with half of the hive. The half left behind raises a new queen. As disbursing bees leave the nest, they buzz around in a big group, while scout bees look for their new home.
“This is a really crucial time for bees and a really exciting time for beekeepers. We have to be ready with our gear at a moment’s notice if we get a call to collect a bee swarm.” The bees are very docile during this time as they do not have a home or honey to protect. To corral the bees, Foy and the other Chicas will simply spray some sugar water so the bees are busy licking one another, then shake the branch they rest on into a box or gently scoop the bees out of the air using a bucket and lid, then safely place them in their new hive. It is important to not try to kill the bees and instead call the Colorado swarm hotline, 844.779. 2337, before the bees nest inside walls of homes.
Once bees have been corralled into their new hive, they may live on the Boulder Public Library roof along with other bees used for education, advocacy and a little bit of their honey. “It is not good to take all of the bee’s honey as they need it for fuel and warmth in the winter, but they make so much extra. We make that into lip balms, throat sprays, mineral sunscreens and beeswax plastic alternatives.”
In September the group will partake in Bee Boulder, a huge festival educating and celebrating pollinators. There will be speakers, vendors, games, food and so much more to teach you how you can help save the bees and the human race. “This is a great opportunity to move our agenda even further by engaging people in how they can be part of the solution.”