RICHLAND, Wash. – The EM Richland Operations Office and contractor Mission Support Alliance (MSA) are implementing measures to support pollinating insects on the Hanford Site, the result of ecological monitoring to help ensure the effects of cleanup on wildlife is minimized.
The measures come after a 2017 study sought the best practices to support pollinators. It identified the common types of bees found at Hanford and the habitats they rely on.
Results from that study were used to develop a pollinator-friendly native plant seed mix, which has been used in more than 120 acres of restoration projects on the site.
The study also identified the need to restore bee nesting habitats in disturbed areas. After a new water line was recently placed across the site’s Central Plateau, crews revegetated disturbed land, and installed 20 bee boxes nearby to provide nesting habitat for leafcutter and mason bees, two bee species common to the site.
“The Department of Energy strives to be an excellent steward of the ecology at Hanford,” said Annabelle Rodriguez with the EM site stewardship division. “When habitats have to be disturbed as part of cleanup work, we perform mitigation actions to benefit the ecology. Installing these bee boxes has allowed us to do just that to ensure we continue to support these important insects at Hanford.”
Bees native to Hanford are typically solitary insects that nest in hollow twigs or wood structures instead of laying eggs in hives. Leafcutter bees are an important pollinator species that helps pollinate the native plants and flowers. Like the well-known honeybee, solitary bees are also experiencing an overall decline in population, so providing these nesting habitats is an important part of species preservation.
The bee boxes are crucial to overall habitat mitigation efforts at Hanford, according to Emily Norris with MSA’s ecological monitoring and compliance program team.
“The boxes were installed next to a recently revegetated site to help increase the abundance of the seeded native flowers,” Norris said. “By supporting pollinators, we’re benefiting all species at Hanford that rely on their services: plants, animals, and more.”