Keeping the critters at bay

A bee investigates the bloom of a Baja fairy duster at Tohono Chul Park. A bee is an insect you want in your garden - they play the important role of pollinating your plants.

You probably never knew you wanted to share a photo of a bee on Instagram. 

But you do. Oh, you really do. 

In honor of National Pollinator Week (June 18 to June 24), Tohono Chul, 7366 Paseo del Norte, is giving you the opportunity to adopt and name your very own bee. Plus, you'll get a photo of your precious pollinator. 

We're bee-ing serious. 

The park created the campaign as a fundraiser and way to boost awareness about the importance of pollinators three years ago. 

For just $5, you can adopt a bee and secure entry to the gardens' Pollinator Party 6-8 p.m. Friday, June 22. 

"A lot of people think native bees are honey bees, but they actually don't make honey or live in hives," said Michelle Armstrong, the Tohono Chul's director of marketing and communications. "They're solitary and live in holes in the ground. They don't want to sting you unless they feel challenged. ... They just want to pollinate. They're very mellow." 

The Sonoran Desert alone has around 1,000 native bee species, and only two of those produce honey, she added. (The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum has lots of fun facts  about bees in the desert. They're also hosting a Pollinator Party 5-10 p.m. Saturday, June 23.)

The adopt-a-bee campaign and Pollinator Party are attempts to dispel fears about bees, which Armstrong said are the most efficient pollinators. Butterflies, hummingbirds, bats and birds are other pollinating pros. Approximately ⅓ of crops depend on pollination. 

Bee lovers can adopt a cactus bee for $5, a blue mason orchard bee for $20, a leaf cutter bee for $55 and a carpenter bee for $100. The pricier the adoption, the more photos of your bee and swag you get. 

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Adopt a cactus bee for $5 and gain entrance to the Pollinator Party. 

Tohono Chul has also created some bee profiles so you can get a good sense for what your bee likes and dislikes. 

For example, a carpenter bee such as Albeeus Bumbeldore likes "woodworking, the smell of sawdust, being large and in charge, keeping it mellow, agave dwelling..." and dislikes "Woody the Woodpecker, roommates, hands-on-humans, stinging (but don't push their buttons)." Visit tohonochulpark.org/bee for the other bee profiles. 

It's all in good fun. 

"It's humorous because how could you technically tell which (bee) is yours?..." Armstrong said. "We picked four varieties specific to Tohono Chul that are on the ground that help pollinate our gardens. They're native to our gardens." 

Adopting a bee gets you instant access to the Pollinator Party, where you can sample regional honey, taste some locally-distilled mead and learn about urban beekeeping. There will also be a pollinator-themed story time and molecular gastronomy involving honey. 


If you go: 

What: Tohono Chul's Pollinator Party

When: Friday, June 22, 6-8 p.m. 

Where: Tohono Chul, 7366 Paseo del Norte

Cost: $5 to $100, depending on which bee you adopt

More info: Visit tohonochul.org/bee