St. Louis (KMOV) -- To help educate the public about native bees and their benefits, the Saint Louis Zoo recently installed bee boxes in five locations around the zoo.
"Humanity relies greatly on pollinators, not only for food but flowers as well," the Saint Louis Zoo said in a statement released Tuesday. "One out of every three bites of food we eat depends on pollinators. Honeybees, bumblebees and other insects, birds and small mammals pollinate over 90 percent of the planet's flowering plants and one third of all human food crops."
Visitors can find the boxes in five locations around the zoo: Missouri Meadow outside the Monsanto Insectarium, the Emerson Children's Zoo, near the administration building and two other locations.
Zoo officials say the small, birdhouse-like structures will attract leaf-cutter, mason and masked bees, all species that would normally nest in pre-existing holes in wood made by other species, such as beetles.
“Creating bee boxes will not cause problems for homeowners or zoo visitors,” said Ed Spevak, curator of invertebrates at the Saint Louis Zoo. “We should not be afraid of bees. If we leave bees alone, they will not harm us, and they help us enormously. With 20,000 species of bees in the world, bees are invaluable to the functioning of many habitats and to the birds and other animals that feed on the seeds, nuts and fruits from the labors of these pollinators."
Officials said the installing the boxes will give bees nesting areas that are disappearing in the wild.