The Bumbleshack is the first tiny house on our little tiny house homestead. It is a 6.7 ft wide by 19.6 ft long, 131.32 square ft home built on a trailer with a 6.7 ft by 7.25 ft, 48.58 square ft sleeping loft, a living room with a 8 ft sofa/pop-up bed that sleeps two (plus room for some pets!), a kitchen and a bath with a composting toilet and a full shower. The kitchen includes a sink, 2 small refrigerator/freezer combos, an induction cooktop and a countertop convection oven. There is an instant propane hot water heater in a small shed attached to the back of the house. It has a red metal roof, red trim and cedar siding accented with rusty reclaimed tin and wood. And 11 windows!! Those windows make the space feel so much bigger than it actually is, and they will give us nice views from all angles of our new scenic, pastoral property and creek in the mountains of western North Carolina.
Why tiny houses, you ask? There are so many reasons. First and foremost, a tiny carbon footprint! No mortgage and no rent, therefore LOTS more money monthly to put back into the investment accounts that we robbed to buy the tiny house. Our electric bills are super small and will be nonexistent with solar, hydro and wind generated power, and our water will come from the abundant spring on our property. Tiny houses don’t cost much to repair because of their small size. Need to replace your roof down the line? It shouldn’t be too expensive with such a small area to cover. Less time to clean. Less possessions to keep track of. MORE time for my children and doing things we really want to do, like spending time out in nature.
We named it The Bumbleshack for the beeeeees!!!! Those cute, little fuzzy insects that make it possible for us to eat and well basically, LIVE. Without bees pollinating farmers’ crops around the world, there would be a food shortage. And they ARE dying. Colony Collapse Disorder is a serious threat to our food system. CCD is a phenomenon in which worker bees from a honey bee colony abruptly disappear without a trace. There are a number of things that are believed to cause this, including widespread pesticide usage and GMO crops. And it’s not just honey bees that are disappearing. Population levels of more than 700 North American bee species are declining as habitat loss and pesticide use continue at a rapid pace.
What can we as individuals do to help? So many things! Start with the basics like using natural pesticides for your home, lawn, garden and pets, buy organic whenever you can, and create much needed habitats by planting native flowers that attract bees and butterflies. Soapy water works wonders on plant pests. Or you can use crushed egg shells in your garden, use plants that attract beneficial insects like ladybugs, utilize companion gardening techniques or just border your garden with plant species that repel pests.
Or join a Citizen Science Project! I signed up for Bumble Bee Watch, which is a collaborative effort to track and conserve North America’s bumble bees. This project allows for individuals to:
- Upload photos of bumble bees to start a virtual bumble bee collection
- Identify the bumble bees in your photos and have your identifications verified by experts
- Help researchers determine the status and conservation needs of bumble bees
- Help locate rare or endangered populations of bumble bees
- Learn about bumble bees, their ecology, and ongoing conservation efforts
- Connect with other citizen scientists
I also signed up locally here in North Carolina for a project by Wild South called The Search for the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee. This project utilizes the app iNaturalist to photograph and catalog all species of bumble bees across the Southern Appalachian Mountains. They lead training sessions, hiking and backpacking expeditions throughout the project to priority areas where the rusty patched bumble bee has been known to frequent.
In Florida, there is another Citizen Science project called Native Buzz, created by the University of Florida Honey Bee Research and Extension Lab. Their goal is to learn more about the nesting preferences, diversity and distribution of native solitary bees and wasps, to share the information gained and to provide a forum for those interested in participating in the science and art of native beekeeping (and wasp-keeping!). You can keep track of your own Native Buzz Nest Site and see the results of other participant’s nest sites.
Through participation in Native Buzz you can:
- Design and build nesting habitat for solitary bees and wasps.
- Identify the solitary bees and wasps as they emerge from your nesting site.
- Compare the populations of solitary bees and wasps nesting in your site to other nesting site populations across the country.
- Investigate the ecological web of predators, prey, parasites, pollinators and more.
- Collect and record data about the solitary bees and wasps that nest in your site.
- Share your findings and contribute to a growing database of knowledge.
- Explore the fascinating world of solitary bees and wasps!
For more information on bees and other beneficial invertebrates that deserve our attention, visit The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation’s Bumble Bee Project page. They provide information on how to create habitats and identify various species of bumble bees. LOTS of good stuff on this website!