Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

ICT Bee Fest educates community with a celebration for pollinators, native plants

This year, Grassland Groupies hosted the first ICT Bee Fest to bring attention to their cause. The Grassland Groupies is an organization with a focus on conserving pollinators.

“We’re really trying to raise awareness for pollinators and native plants and creating a habitat for them,” Nicole Brown, WSU biology alumna and Grassland Groupies co-founder, said.

Kansas is home to nearly 400 species of native bees who aid in pollination. Hundreds of insects, like butterflies, moths and mosquitoes, help as well.

“There’s a lot of biodiversity here that a lot of people aren’t aware of,” Brown said. “If we plant native plants in our schools, workplaces (and) backyards, that’s a really good way to provide habitat for them and support them.”

ICT Bee Fest was held on Sept. 16 at the Mid-America All-Indian Center. The event was free to the public and offered activities for all age groups.

Local beekeeper Jerry Mcgrew attended Bee Fest to participate in the educational opportunity the event provided.

The petting zoo only included male bees.

“Boy bees, we call them drones, don’t have a stinger. So you can handle them,” Mcgrew said.

Outdoor activities included insect netting, monarch tagging and a butterfly observation tent. Visitors could also tour a observing native wildflower and pollinator garden.

Art and crafts for children, a bumblebee petting zoo and various vendors were set up inside the center as well.

Grassland Groupies co-founder Rachel Roth managed the bumblebee petting zoo.

There were three vendors at the event; Burrowing Owl Native Plants, Hidden River Prairie Nursery and Bleeding Heart Studios, who retailed bee jewelry.

Burrowing Owl Native Plants is run by Logan Shoup and Brittany Smith.

“We specialize in plants that are native to Kansas or their ecoregion. We’re all about promoting Native Plants and gardening in an urban and suburban landscape,” Shoup said. “We also do a bunch of additional merchandise to kind of promote pollinators and bees.”

Renae Giefer from Hidden River Prairie Nursery spoke to the importance of maintaining native plant life in Kansas.

“They’re natural to our prairie and a prairie is a very intricate ecosystem and without all the pollinators, you know, anywhere from a tiny little ant to, you know, cute butterflies or birds or bigger birds of prey. It’s a chain from the bottom up,” Geifer said. “And to be able to keep that alive and to keep selling things like this that people can take and put in their own garden and have their own little prairie ecosystem. You know, it’s just beneficial to everyone.

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About the Contributors
Monique Bever, Reporter
Monique Bever is a first-year reporter and photographer. She is a freshman majoring in philosophy. Monique has lived in Wichita for most of her life. She loves film, fashion, and her cat.
Mel Bright, Reporter
Mel Bright is a first-year reporter and photographer for The Sunflower. They are a freshman acting major with a concentration in film acting. When Bright is not in school, they loves to dance, act and they do photography on the side for fun. Bright uses they/them pronouns.

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