By Jim Newell
There’s two new hotels in Orion Township and they’re not along the Brown Road corridor. And the hotels’ future tenants will be buzzing with delight at their new accommodations.
Noah Johnson, an Eagle Scout candidate in Lake Orion Boy Scout Troop 128, has designed, constructed and installed two new bee hotels at the Orion Township Public Library.
One hotel is next to the outdoor reading garden/patio at the back of the library, while the other is near the Polly Ann Trailhead on the east side of the property.
Johnson installed the hotels on April 10.
And visitors to the library shouldn’t have to worry about getting stung while enjoying a little reading time outdoors or taking a walk on the trail.
The type of bees that bee hotels tend to attract are generally not dangerous to humans, Johnson said.
“They don’t target people. And the bee hotels specifically, there for the bees to come into lay their larvae in and then they seal it up with mud and leave. So, there shouldn’t be any danger or swarms of bees around that people have to worry about,” he said.
Unlike honey bees, the native solitary bees attracted to bee hotels, or houses, are extremely docile and up to three times more effective as pollinators.
About six months ago, Johnson started looking into potential Eagle Scout projects
Lori Morris, volunteer engagement specialist at the Orion Township Public Library, said Johnson approached her wanting to do a project at the library and asked what the library might want, or need.
“I’ve actually known Noah since 2017 when he applied to become a volunteer at the library for National Junior Honor Society hours and so he was a volunteer for me first. Then he approached me in September 2021…and said he needed a place to do his Eagle Scout project,” Morris said.
“I talked to Lori at the library and she recommended that I look into bee hotels because they’ve been popular recently and they’ve had some similar projects here, like the bat house,” Johnson said.
He then did a bit more research and felt that a bee hotel would be a good fit at the library. But even more research was required: the best way to build and install the bee hotels, location, materials like special reeds for housing.
Morris said working with scouts is mutually beneficial: the scouts get to complete their projects and the library gets new amenities to enhance the library.
“We look forward to partnering with scout troops. We’ve had the reading amphitheater, we’ve had the bat house and wooden puzzles made for our special needs community,” Morris said. “And it’s a way for them to have a legacy here at the library.”
To get the project funded, Johnson sent out donation requests to friends, family and his scout troop asking for direct donations. But his main source of revenue was from can and bottle drives.
“Even though it was only 10 cents per bottle, it really added up because we’ve needed a big investment for this,” Johnson said.
Johnson, who has been in scouts for more than seven years, had help during construction and installation from his fellow scouts and his parents, Valerie and Brian Penz.
Now that he’s finished, Johnson said he’s happy he stuck with it, given the difficulties of the past two years.
“I definitely feel glad that I’ve made it this far. It hasn’t always been easy. There were some times, especially through COVID when we couldn’t meet up or go on camp outs that I really had to ask myself if I was committed as I needed to be to get this done. But, yeah, I’m just really glad that I could make it this far,” Johnson said.