So, What is a Pollination Accelerator Anyway?
We get this question often when people first hear about Arkearth. We are more than just an advocate for honeybees, in fact, we support dozens of other types of bees as well! Every species from the big Bumble Bee to the introvert and solitary Mason Bee, we work to create a balanced and diverse ecosystem that supports all of nature! But wait, there’s more! Here are all the components that can go into an Arkearth Pollination Accelerator Project for community gardens, urban farms, corporate campuses and many other locations.
1. Bees and Beehives: We start with bees and hives because bees are the A-List Celebrities of pollination. Bees are also fascinating and complex creatures which can tell us a lot about nature and the specific ecosystem’s health. Plus, bees produce honey, beeswax, propolis, royal jelly, AND bee pollen – all amazing elements and nutritional byproducts of their 40,000+ member hive. Arkearth deploys one to five hives initially and in some settings, we use IoT technology to monitor and track the health and progress of each hive in real time! Our queens and colonies are species from the European or Western Honey Bee variety. In that group, they can include the Italian Honey bee, the Carniolan bee, Russian and Buckfast bees. Raw Honey is collected and “spun out” into containers for our partners to use for selling in a gift store, using in recipes for their kitchens and bars, or giving away as a wonderful treat to employees, volunteers, and guests. Part of our honey harvest can also go to our for-profit partner, Hivessence, which uses it for soaps, creams, candles, and other organic products. We work with over 20 different beekeepers to support them and acquire honey from various regions from Hawaii to the South of France!
Arkearth also includes environments and features for other bees as well, with Mason Bee Houses, specific flowering plants, and water features to keep our fuzzy friends hydrated.
2. Butterfly Enclosures: Butterflies are a beautiful and important part of the pollination process. We especially focus on natural visitors like the Monarch. This species has recently been added to the endangered list. Each year, millions of Monarchs migrate as far from Toronto Ontario, through Kansas and Texas, down to Mexico where they repopulate and start the whole process over again. Different species of butterflies are attracted to different types of plants and flowers. Arkearth incorporates several selections to help keep the complicated pollination process in balance. Arkearth plants flowers, herbs, fruits, and vegetables that attract a wide variety of butterflies. We also provide attractive screened structures where butterflies can grow from caterpillars to adults and freed once fully developed. These enclosures create an excellent educational component for kids and volunteers plus they add and attractive and beneficial element to any landscape.
3. Bats and Hummingbirds: Moving from insects to mammals and aves, Arkearth’s pollination solution frequently includes hanging bat houses in appropriate locations. Bats are also fascinating creatures and they are the rulers of nighttime pollination and the removal of undesirable insects: can you say, Mosquitos? Bats have a diverse diet that includes bugs and nectar. A given that some plants only bloom at night, they’re a perfect match for the nocturnal furry creatures! There are several bat species that are endangered, so our work to preserve their habitat
is a win-win for everyone. In North America, we find Hoary bats, long-nosed, Pallid, Mexican-free-tailed, big-eared, Fruit, and of course, the Little Brown Bat types. Hummingbirds are equally amazing daytime visitors in any garden. Arkearth creates healthy food attractions that bring all the hummingbirds to the yard! Included in planting varieties are tubular shaped flowers like hollyhocks, daylilies, and petunias. Also included are feeders with nutritionally balanced sugar water which is refreshed 2-3 times per week. If we were hummingbirds, given our size and weight, the average diet would need to include over 150,000 calories!
4. Wildflower borders and pots: In additional to any existing indigenous plants, Arkearth does a survey of each site and then recommends the species of plants and flowers along with a design to beautifully and beneficially incorporate blooming flowers, edible plants, and trees into pollination accelerator projects. This element is fundamental to all the visiting and hosted pollinators that will be present throughout the growing seasons. In community gardens and urban farms, there are over 50 flowering food crops from spring to fall to pollinate. Fruit trees in the spring to squashes in the fall, all of these plants need pollination.
Wildflowers provide an extra lure for different pollinators as well as provide food for them in-between crop cycles and plantings. This feature also increases food crop growth and yields by as much as 35% per project! Pollination Accelerators can more than pay for themselves with added efficiency and hive products. We also encourage our partners to collect and reuse or sell seeds from the flowers for the following year.
5. Water Features: Water is essential to all of life and depending on each venue, Arkearth can add stand-alone water features like bird baths, solar-powered fountains, Koi ponds, in-ground pounds, or a combination of these. Bees can drown in open pools of water, so we often install solar-powered fountains with rock features – for the bees to land on – and drink from without becoming Jack Dawson. In fact, all the pollinating species we’ve mentioned benefit from a water feature
6. Technology and IoT: Monitoring and tracking the intricate elements in nature are important – especially when our projects are helping to support a food crop. Arkearth utilizes IoT (Internet of Things) on our beehives, bat houses, and plants. These solar and battery powered technologies provide real time reporting on the health and conditions of the individual habitats and overall well-being of the surrounding environment. Knowing when a hive is in trouble or about to swarm are key in anticipating next steps in helping nature manage the environment. We also plan to incorporate our data into AI platforms for a collection of data that can be used by universities, the Department of Agriculture, and supply chains to integrate with local and regional weather patterns and forecasts. All of which help better manage our planet’s climate change and climate crisis.
This why we need your help! We are a 501c3 nonprofit that relies totally on the successful growth of Hivessence along with donations from individuals, grants, and paid projects from corporations and businesses. Each of our pollination accelerator projects cost approximately $3,850 to complete (some pending RFPs for bigger projects are estimated around $75,000). Your donation is tax-deductible and 88% of it goes directly into the gardens, farms, and parks to begin making a difference in saving our planet, eradicating food deserts, and saving thousands of species from extinction!
Donate Here and Help Arkearth! :-D