FRAMINGHAM – In first grade, Sean McGillicuddy joined Cub Scouts. Now, he is finishing up his work on his Eagle Scout project, the highest award in Boy Scouts.
McGillicuddy is a Scout in Framingham Troop 78. at the United Methodist Church in Framingham.
The Troop is known for producing several Eagle Scouts. In fact, more than 90 percent of Troop 78 become Eagle Scouts. The national average for Boy Scouts is only 6 percent of Scouts reach that level.
McGillicuddy’s Eagle Scout project focused on bees and pollination at Cushing Memorial Park, and was completed under the guidance of Linda Libby at Framingham Parks & Recreation.
As a project leader, McGillicuddy had to plan and lead the project. He led fellow Scouts to install and plant a pollination garden bee box at Cushing Memorial Park.
Work began with the garden in September 2015. Volunteers and Parks Maintenance staff installed a compost garden to include several edible foods for the public to enjoy (blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries). The workers connected the new keyhole garden with the Children’s Garden, built in 2022, which has many flowering plants and trees that will also attract all kinds of pollinators.
McGillicuddy and other Scouts edged the garden, spread the loam, planted plants specifically to attract bees and butterflies, and placed a border of rocks around the garden.
Three of the plants were planted in hollowed tree stumps.
Flat rocks were then placed at intervals throughout the garden for the butterflies to land on and warm their wings in the sun.
They planted Salvia, Butterfly Bush, Coneflower, Daisies, Bee Balm, Sedums, Gallardia, and Butterfly Weed.
They also put in a bee box near the garden, which is located on the Winter Street side of Cushing.
The bee box houses different species of bees based on the season.
In April 2016, the bee boxes were installed around the Keyhole Garden and a “Green Roof” Large Bee House was also installed on a brick foundation.
More than 100 Mason Bees were purchased and donated by a staff person to start the program.
After the box was installed at Cushing Memorial Park, McGillicuddy released the bees. Releasing the bees is simply putting the open bag into the top the of the bee box. All but one of the bees was in a cocoon, the cocoons were different colors depending on what the bees eat.
“Our hope, is to educate the public on the decline of pollinators and ways to help improve pollination and to save our food supply. The result was that our strawberries and blueberries excelled. The cherry tomatoes multiplied tremendously and the plants grew to 3 feet wide by 6 feet long,” said Libby.
Mason bees do not make honey.
“We do not need honey, but we do need lots of pollination for survival of our growing population,” said Libby.
“The Honey Bee is the only bee to make honey and it is food for their young and for themselves and to survive the winters when there is no nectar or pollen available. We in essence, are taking their food away. Bee Keepers need to make “sugar boards” to help their Bees survive the winters,” she said.
“One Mason bee can do the pollination of over 100 honey bees. It takes 7 Mason bees to pollinate one fruit tree and almost 450 honey bees to pollinate that same tree,” explained Libby.
In May 2017, Mason bees again were introduced to the Cushing gardens and in June, Leafcutter bees were added. “These bees are not known to cause Anaphylactic Shock. The male bees do not have stingers and only live about 2 weeks and their job is to mate. The females have stingers but are so docile that it is a rare occasion that they sting and it is said it feels like a mosquito bite,” explained Libby.
Over the summer, three observation boxes were added to note different types of Bees/Wasps that may be using our gardens and nest boxes. The goal is to see what typed of native bees and pollinators are in Framingham.
McGillicuddy is in the process of finishing his last couple of Merit Badges and will have his Eagle Board of Review later this year. This is the last step prior to the award of his Eagle rank at the Eagle Court of Honor which will be held in the spring of 2018.
McGillicuddy, 17, is a senior at Keefe Tech Regional High in Framingham.
He is a member of the National Honor Society at Keefe and a School Ambassador. He is camp counselor at Keefe’s summer program and also works full time at Hanson Farm from May to November.
Photos courtesy of Libby