It wasn’t about mending fences, but building one.

As his Eagle Scout project, 17-year-old Derek Tully of Davis planned, organized and built a state-of-the-art fence around the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre pollinator garden at the University of California, Davis.  

The public garden, adjacent to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, west of the central campus, now boasts a post-and-rail fence to “bee-hold.”

The four-foot high fence, meshed with wire that extends 6 inches underground, is “meticulous,” “fabulous” and “beautiful,” agree UC Davis Department of Entomology officials, haven volunteers, and the garden’s visitors.

Tully launched the project April 2, and with the help of fellow members of Scout Troop 111, adult volunteers, and his family and friends, including his father, Larry Tully, a retired machinist from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, completed it on Sept. 7. The 33-member crew often toiled in 100-degree heat as they calculated, measured, cut, assembled, hammered, nailed, capped and stained the fence.

Derek Tully negotiated with area businesses to obtain discounted prices. The total cost of materials: $6300.  The UC Davis Department of Entomology picked up the tab through a special account coordinated by entomology professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and the haven’s faculty liaison.

“This project saved our department an estimated $24,000 to $30,000,” Kimsey said. The garden, publicly dedicated Sept. 11, 2010, was installed during her term as interim chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology. It is open from dawn to dusk at no charge.

Tully, a senior at DaVinci Charter Academy, Davis, will be honored at a UC Davis Department of Entomology recognition ceremony at 1:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 15 at the haven.  The ceremony is part of two concurrent open houses, themed “Flower Lovers: The Bees,” planned from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Bohart Museum of Entomology on Crocker Lane and the haven, located off Hutchinson Drive/Hopkins Road.

“Derek did a fabulous job organizing the project and the volunteers,” Kimsey said.  She and her husband, UC Davis forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey, himself an Eagle Scout, supported the fence project from its inception. The Kimseys are longtime friends of the Tully family.

“The fence is meticulous, a professional job,” said Lynn Kimsey. “It’s beautiful.”

The sturdy fence, complete with three gates, is meant to define the space, beautify the garden, allow easy entrance to visitors, and restrict the movement of jackrabbits, ground squirrels and pocket gophers.  The underground wiring is designed to inhibit burrowing animals that feast on the plants in the garden.

“Everyone likes the fence but the rodents,” quipped Larry Tully. He and his wife, Leslie Woodhouse, a research support scientist at the USDA Western Human Nutrition Research Center on the UC Davis campus, serve as assistant scoutmasters of Troop 111. The troop is led by scoutmaster Mark Shafer.

Big success

The Eagle Scout project involved more than 488 volunteer hours, or to be exact, 488 hours and 15 minutes.  Among the volunteers laboring on the fence, in addition to the adult volunteers, were 18 registered members of the Boy Scouts of America; forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey; Derek’s brother, Shane, 21, also an Eagle Scout; and Derek’s girlfriend, violinist Emily Talbot, 17.

“I think it’s a good project,” Derek Tully humbly acknowledged.  “I think it’s one of the most solid Eagle Scout projects I’ve seen.”

“We’re so grateful to Derek and his team for the contribution they have made to the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven,” said Melissa “Missy” Gable, program manager of the California Center for Urban Horticulture at UC Davis and involved in the garden since its very beginning. “The fence really gives the garden a sense of place and welcomes community members in to stroll the paths and enjoy the plants.  Thanks to Derek, the outside of the garden now matches the beauty of the inside.”

In organizing the project and obtaining volunteers, Tully received assistance from greenhouse superintendent Garry Pearson, UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, who augured the holes for the fence posts.  

Tully said the project required 91 fence posts, 211 2x4s, 46 2x6 railings (each 20 feet long), four yards of gravel, 18 bags of concrete, and 12 rolls of wiring at 100 feet each.

Tully, who joined Tiger Cubs at age 5, worked his way up through the ranks to become a candidate for Eagle Scout, the highest rank in the Boy Scout program. To be eligible for the honor, candidates are required to earn a minimum of 21 merit badges; demonstrate scout spirit, service and leadership; organize a community project not related to scouting; and provide a detailed report of the project. Next step: Tully will appear before the Eagle Scout Board of Review. He is expected to receive his Eagle Scout rank in about a month.

In the meantime, Tully continues his studies at DaVinci Charter Academy and competes on the Davis High School water polo and swim teams, activities “way different” from working on the fence in triple-digit temperatures.

His brother Shane, a business major at Chico State University, earned his Eagle Scout rank in 2008. He built a 20-person observation deck at the Korematsu Elementary School garden, Mace Ranch, Davis.

Future plans? No, Derek Tully does not have his sights set on becoming a professional fence builder.

“I want to become a marine biologist,” he said.