Cherokee Nation adds 16 bee pollinator homes to heirloom garden 

BY STAFF REPORTS
07/31/2020 01:00 PM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr., first lady January Hoskin, center, and first daughter Jasmine Hoskin place bee pollinator homes at the tribe’s Heirloom Garden in Tahlequah. The pollinator homes are part of the first lady’s initiative to help better the environment and provide a safe habitat for bees and other pollinators. COURTESY
Main Cherokee Phoenix
One of 16 newly-installed pollinator homes placed on the Cherokee Nation’s heirloom garden grounds in Tahlequah. The homes are similar to a birdhouse in shape and have pre-drilled holes in the wood for bees to nest. Some of the pollinator homes, such as this one, include small slits in the wood, allowing butterflies a safe place to get away from harsh weather conditions such as rain and wind. COURTESY
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Nation has installed 16 bee pollinator homes in its heirloom garden as part of an initiative by first lady January Hoskin to boost the population of pollinators while improving the environment. 

Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. joined his wife and daughter, Jasmine Hoskin, at the heirloom garden recently to hang the pollinator homes, which could play an important role in creating sustainable habitats for pollinators such as bees, according to a CN press release said.

Pollinators affect one-third of food supplies across the United States, including the traditional Cherokee plants housed in the heirloom garden, the release states.

“As first lady of the Cherokee Nation and as the mother and grandmother of Cherokee children, caring for our environment is an issue that is important not only to me, but to the next seven generations of Cherokee Nation citizens,” said January Hoskin. “Pollinators like bees and butterflies face increasing threats of extinction because of habitat loss. The pollinator houses we are hanging will play an important role in supporting and sustaining the traditional plants in the Cherokee Nation heirloom garden. I encourage Cherokees to make their own pollinator houses, plant pollinator-friendly plants, and support the bees and butterflies living in their own backyard.” 

There are more than 4,000 species of native bees in North America. With increasing use of pesticides as well as habitat loss, native bee populations have declined in recent years. The pollinator homes can provide hundreds of native bees and other pollinators a safe place. 

“Every piece of food we eat is a result of these insects,” CN Senior Director of Environmental Resources Pat Gwin said. “So take a sunflower for example; they pollinate the female flower which will grow into the sunflower seed, which we eat. Even the meat that we eat – deer or cows eat the plants that are being pollinated by these insects. If we take care of bees and other pollinators, they will take care of our pollinating needs that allow for us to supply thousands of plant materials to Cherokees.” 

Gwin and his team maintain the heirloom garden and the tribe’s heirloom seed bank. The garden is home to more than 200 traditional plants and 26 crops that Cherokees used hundreds of years ago for food, ceremonies and medicinal purposes. The plants and crops include White Eagle Corn, river cane, Cherokee dipper gourds, elderberry and rattlesnake master, the release states.

It also states that the garden was created to grow, preserve and share the plants and crops. The crops and native plants grown each year in the garden also help replenish the CN heirloom seed bank, which provides seeds to CN citizens who are interested in growing traditional crops. 

The pollinator homes in the garden are similar to a birdhouse in shape and have pre-drilled holes in the wood for bees to nest. Some of the homes also include small slits in the wood, allowing butterflies a safe place to get away from harsh weather conditions such as rain and wind.

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