According to the Sierra Club, there are more than 4,000 wild bee species native to North America and Hawaii. Many of these species live in the Sonoran Desert. Scientists that have been tracking 1,500 wild native species have reported that half of them are in decline. Besides these bees, a lot of pollinator insect species are declining in numbers also. The declines are being driven by habitat loss and pesticides used by farmers. Other drivers include disease, urbanization and climate change.
Toxic pesticides are killing bees and putting one fourth of our food supply at risk. American beekeepers reported an estimate loss of 44% of their hives last year. Now the current administration in the Whitehouse is threatening to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency which means things could get worse.
One person in Oracle is working to prevent the loss of more bees by providing native bees with a safe and nurturing environment. Using her love of art, gardening and Planet Earth, Suzie Daigeneault designs and builds Bee Keeps (bee houses) out of found wood and metal. She also makes bird houses, hummingbird feeders, cuff bracelets, etched metal bookmarks and other art from recycled metal and wood. She enjoys working with vintage metal.
Suzie has been living in Oracle for six years at the Triangle L Ranch. She says living at the Triangle L Ranch has provided her a lot of opportunities to learn from the artists that visit there and are abundant in Oracle. She studied art at Colorado Institute of Art and took a class at the University of Arizona. Most of the education was in Art Design. She is mostly self-taught. Suzie built her first bee keep 20 years ago for her large garden in Cave Creek, Arizona. She has since been studying native bees and making improvements on her designs.
When studying bee keeps, she found that there were not many good ones available at reasonable prices for the backyard gardener. With that in mind she decided to use art to help the bees and design the bee keeps to help backyard gardeners and the bees. Some of her work is out in the desert at the Triangle L Ranch. She is working in collaboration with Triangle L owner Sharon Holnback, Jim Pollack and “much appreciated” volunteers to build a permanent large pollinator project that includes a bee wall and pollinator pond.
Suzie’s bee keeps and artwork are available at Yikes!, the Sunshine Shop and the University of Arizona Museum of Art Gift Shop in Tucson. Her art is on display for sale at the Biosphere 2 Café and the Triangle L Ranch Gift Shop. She is part of the Holiday Art Market which will be open from November 15, 2017 until December 23, 2017. The Market is located at the Oracle Art Station, 1395 W. American Ave., Oracle.