Bees and Refugees

Native Bee House, handcrafted by Multicultural Refugee Coalition Refugee Gardeners

Native Bee House, handcrafted by Multicultural Refugee Coalition Refugee Gardeners

Bees.  They are getting a lot of press lately.  They rub their little butts and feets all over all of the flowers and in this way, the plants that drive our ecosystem and ultimately provide our sustenance can flourish.  Therefore, it behooves us to care for the little buzzers.  This might mean replacing turf grass with flowers, letting your plants flower at the end of their season, going big with some hives, or maybe just picking up a little Native Bee House (pictured above).

Bees generally have a reputation for highly cooperative and social behavior.  However, there are also solitary bees (and beneficial wasps) that tend to take up residence in small cavities, like the hollow bamboo of this bee house and keep to themselves.  They aren’t aggressive (solitary doesn’t have to mean unpleasant) and are a pleasure to have around the garden due to their typical daily routine of pollinating plants and eating pests.

This bee house was crafted by a group of experienced and dedicated gardeners of the New Leaf Refugee Agriculture Program at the Multicultural Refugee Coalition.   Two of these gardeners, Lal and Chandra, recently hosted a visit to their community garden plot at Festival Beach Community Garden, where the New Leaf Agricultural Program participants maintain 23 plots.  Chandra and Lal were growing several vegetables of their native Bhutan, such as green gourd and long beans.  Both gardeners spent many years in Nepal before coming to the United States and remarked that Texas seasons are hospitable to most types of vegetable typical in Nepal, and that the limited space available in our urban setting is more of a consideration than seasonal differences.

If you would like to learn more about this skilled group of gardeners or get your very own bee box, you can attend the gallery opening of Our Piece of Earth: Images from the MRC Refugee Gardens this Saturday, October 25th from 7 pm to 9 pm at the Prizer Gallery, 2023 E. Cesar Chavez.  The show features a beautiful collection of images from documentary photographer, Steve Moakley, who has been spending time with these skilled gardeners for the better part of a year.