Ken Lehman

Insect hotel aims to bolster pollinator population

Leafcutter bees, beetles, moths and even butterflies will soon be checking into Red Deer’s newest hotel.

Leafcutter bees, beetles, moths and even butterflies will soon be checking into Red Deer’s newest hotel.

Located in the northeast corner of Bower Ponds, a new pollinator hotel is expected to be taking reservations by summer’s end.

The insect hotel is one of the features in the new pollinator park, which will take up space in Bower Ponds below the Taylor Drive bridge and Kerry Wood Drive. It will be completed this summer.

The park will feature good pollinator plants including highbush cranberry, wild columbine, wild flax, wood lily, wild plum, milk weed, black eyed susan and an apple or crabapple tree.

The hotel is a simple wood structure with holes drilled in the various woods such as ash, cedar and spruce designed to attract cavity nesting critters and insects.

“A lot of our native bees are solitary nesters,” said Ken Lehman, the city’s parks ecological and planning specialist.

“These aren’t necessarily the species that would burrow into the ground like our digger bees or our bumble bees. These are other solitary nesters that would use these cavity solitary locations where they are going to lay their eggs in there and back it with some bee butter. Each egg is an individual cell and they just pack that whole hole full of eggs. Those eggs would emerge one by one.”

The city has a three-year plan to bolster the pollinator population by designating parks at Bower Ponds, City Hall Park, Snell Gardens and Maskepetoon Park.

Pesticides will not be used and the weeds will be hand picked in the manicured areas to protect the pollinators in the designated parks.

“It has been shown that certain species have been decreasing in number,” said Lehman. “We are just trying to bolster people’s understanding of how important pollinators are so they can do it in their yard so if we all provide that habitat and look after those species then we are going to be better off.”

Lehman said the parks are demonstration areas to help people understand pollinators and what they can do to create pollinator-friendly backyards.

Interpretative signs will be at all four sites and Bower Ponds is the first phase of the project.

Next year the city will work on Snell Gardens. Specific plans are on the city’s website including information on how to be a pollinator pal.

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com

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