Along with being a showcase for state government and the home of monuments to Washington’s veterans, the Capitol grounds are also becoming a place for a bit of ecological experimentation.
In March, the Department of Enterprise Services, which maintains the buildings and grounds, announced it will have several sections of “ecolawns” in the wide expanses of grass around the campus. These are areas with slow-growing grasses, clover and low-growing perennials that need less mowing, water and fertilizer. Right now, they look like areas the groundskeepers forgot to mow. The test will be in the summer, when contrary to popular opinion on the East Side, it doesn’t rain much around here.
The next eco project is bringing bees to the campus. Last week a joint effort with the Olympia Beekeepers Association set up two hives on the governor’s mansion lawn for some 30,000 honey bees coming Wednesday. They’re supposed to help boost public awareness of the decline in bee populations around the nation, and help pollinate the Food Bank vegetable gardens on the campus. Later this spring, the association will put up “bee condos” for several species of mason bees on the east half of the campus.
According to bee experts, the small black mason bees are better pollinators than honey bees, especially in cool damp weather, and rarely sting, the department reported.
Along with a possible boost to the environment, the bees are likely to provide an endless supply of puns about how everyone is buzzing over what a honey of an idea this is.