Torrance, CA (October 4, 2021): Shaver Lake in the Sierra Nevada Mountains has always been a special place for Bishop Montgomery senior Natalya Eastepp ‘22. Every summer, her family travels to the lake to enjoy all the beauty that it has to offer. In 2020, the day after Natalya and her family left the lake for the summer, a wildfire began ravaging a local town and the forests around the lake. It was devastating for Eastepp as the area holds special memories for her and her family. She decided to make it her Girl Scout Gold Award project to do her part to restore the forests in some way.
As the forests were burning, Eastepp’s concern for the environment led her to research the role that bees play in pollinating these forests. What she discovered in her research is that bee populations, not only in California, but all over the world, were declining at a high rate and something had to be done. “Bees play a large role in pollinating our food plants,” says Eastepp. “Approximately every three bites of food that humans eat are pollinated by bees. Without them, we [humans] will only have about five years to live before we go extinct.”
Eastepp’s research led her specifically to the Mason Bee, a bee native to North America. What she learned was that this bee pollinates some important species of plants better than the honey bee. “The Mason Bee pollinates about 95% more than the honey bee,” she says, “and because they live well among other bee species, they act as a stress reliever of other bees, causing them to sting less.”
For her Gold Award project, titled Community Mason Bee Awareness and Population, Eastepp set out to raise awareness of the importance these bees play in restoring our environment, and teach people that saving these bees is not difficult with a little effort. Eastepp, who plans to double major in college in business/marketing and communications, reached out to a Home Depot in Torrance and got the Mason Bee nests donated. She then went out and purchased 680 bee larvae from a Mason Bee farmer and she began looking for homes for the nests, which serve to protect the bees from predators. Today, there are 13 nests throughout Los Angeles county and other areas of southern California, including Madrona Marsh, California State University, Dominguez Hills, the Los Angeles Arboretum and South Coast Botanical Gardens, which incidentally is where Bishop Montgomery alumna Adrienne Lao-Nakashima ‘93 serves as CEO.
Even with all the hours she has put in toward her Gold Award, Eastepp took on another project to help raise awareness about the importance of preserving the bee population. In September, she wrote and published a children’s book titled Poppy and Me. In the book, Eastepp tells the story of Tali and her friend, Poppy, a California Mason bee, as they go on an adventure teaching children the importance of bees, pollination and native gardens. “I wrote it as a children’s book, but the information is really meant for people of all ages,” says Eastepp. “I just want to raise awareness about bees and their role in rebuilding nature and our environment.
To read more about Eastepp and her work, visit www.beesthrivewethrive.com.
Her book, Poppy and Me, is available on Amazon by clicking here.