St. Luke's, Scituate church school works to save the bees

St. Luke’s Church in Scituate is buzzing with new ideas for creation care. The St. Luke's church school has led the way for the church’s many bee-centric initiatives, and the parish has big plans for involving the wider Scituate community in the future, according to Kitty Marrone, St. Luke’s chair of Christian education. 

mason bees Courtesy Photo A mason bee house.

The bee population in the United States declined by an alarming 44 percent between April 2015 and April 2016. Scientists believe this is due to a combination of loss of habitat, climate change, pesticide use, disease and the rise of non-native pests.  A huge number of crops need natural pollination to survive, and some estimates state that as much as one-third of the food we eat in the U.S. depends on natural pollination (CNN).  

St. Luke’s church school began learning about bees and their precarious situation last year, Marrone said. Kids in first through eighth grades were invited to bring smartphones or iPads with them on Sunday, and together they used their devices to research facts about bees. About 100 of these facts were collected, written on paper plates and posted throughout the church hall and foyer, to raise awareness in the whole congregation about bees and the threats they are facing. In the spring of 2016, the church school held a variety of fundraisers to raise money to buy beehives for families in the developing world through Heifer International.  Through a yard clean-up, bake sale and a trike-a-thon—a tricycle rally in the church parking lot—the church school raised $1,000 for Heifer. “That’s a lot of bees!” Marrone said. 

bud scituate Bishop Bud Cederholm visits St. Luke's, where church school children presented him with local honey and a bee house.

Kids in the St. Luke’s church school continued to learn about bees during the 2016-2017 program year. A member of the congregation who keeps bees visited classes and gave a hands-on presentation about his bees, and kids wrote postcards to the CEO of Bayer-Monsanto, which manufactures some of the pesticides thought to be contributing to the decline of the bee population, asking him to do something to help the bees. The year culminated in an effort to make parishioners’ yards and gardens more hospitable to bees. 

The church school leaders found a company that makes and sells bee houses intended specially to attract mason bees, which Marrone said are “super-duper pollinators.”  Church school students took orders for the hives during the month of March, and recently placed an order for 70 bee houses. 

In the future, Marrone said that St. Luke’s hopes to find ways to engage the town of Scituate in protecting bees, perhaps even someday become a designated “bee city.” 

Marrone said that the enthusiasm for bees has spread from the church school to the whole congregation, and that St. Luke’s is going to continue finding ways to help these essential pollinators. 

“After our initial education effort, the congregation was really prepped to continue this work,” Marrone said. “You throw that little pebble in the water and the ripples go out further and further.” 

--Ellen Stuart Kittle