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BEE OUR GUEST 
The Bee Hotel provides a safe habitat at Carson Tahoe hospital.

Written by Heidi Bethel 
Photo by Erin Meyering

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At the Bee Hotel at the Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center, tubes reveal bees and wasps in all stages of life, from eggs to larvae and fully grown insects

Welcome to the Bee Hotel at the Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center — offering the finest in amenities for wasps looking for a nice place to stay in Carson City. 

It may sound like a joke, but this honeycomb-shaped dwelling with tubes and crevices perfect for growing larvae is a mecca for pollinating activity that benefits the natural flora and fauna in the area. 

In 2018, Carson City earned the title of first Bee City in Nevada. Following suit, the Carson City Chamber of Commerce and the students in its 2019 Leadership Institute class worked with local business owners to build a safe bee habitat near The Greenhouse Project at the medical center. 

“We hope this space is just one additional layer to the Foothill Garden, pollinator garden, and trails space we’ve built behind our Cancer Center,” says Alan Garrett, president and CEO of Carson Tahoe Health. “This new bee habitat provides a place for bees to live, thrive, and pollinate while enhancing the environment we live in. This entire space can inspire community members to get out and enjoy nature while serving as an educational platform for sustainability.”

Happy little insects

Two confirmed species call the Bee Hotel home, and neither is aggressive. Potter wasps and Hylaeus bees both use this new habitat to raise their young, bringing food into the individual cones and sealing them so larvae can grow inside. 

“These species are solitary. They do not colonize to form hives, which means they’re less aggressive because they are not defending a nest or a queen,” explains William Pierz, assistant manager of The Greenhouse Project, a Carson City-area nonprofit that works to feed the food insecure by growing fresh produce and to teach young people about nutrition and agriculture. 

“Until I looked closely and observed the potter wasps bringing caterpillars back, they looked like black jackets,” he adds. “Not all of these black and yellow flying guys are the jerks we’re used to; they are hunting and eating caterpillars that are chowing down on collard greens, kale, and cabbage. It’s phenomenal to see the diversity.”

Benefitting the whole

Keeping destruction by caterpillars at bay is just one benefit of the Bee Hotel. The Hylaeus bees work diligently to collect pollen for their young and help nearby plants in the process. 

“Our pollinators keep everything alive; without them we don’t continue to thrive. This project keeps them safe and healthy,” says Angela Holt, chairperson for the Bee Hotel and program coordinator for Western Nevada College in Carson City.

“The habitat supports our wild spaces and keeps them vibrant, healthy, and biologically diverse,” she says. “And the bees are pretty happy with it.”

A fan of promoting healthy bees, Heidi Bethel was beside herself to learn about the Bee Hotel and hopes to see more projects like this in the future.

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