Bee City USA founder and executive director, Phyllis Stiles, is very honored to speak at the Smithsonian's first Earth Optimism Summit this Saturday, April 22.
On Friday and Saturday, there will concurrent "Deep Dive" sessions organized by themes. Stiles will introduce the Bee City USA and Bee Campus USA programs during the "At Home With Conservation: Backyards, back lots, school yards, and shore fronts" session from 3:45 to 5:00 Saturday at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. Other presenters for this session are Doug Tallamy, author of Bringing Nature Home; Teddy Ammon, Teens Dream co-creator; Jeff Holland, Riverkeeper for the West and Rhodes Rivers; and Joanna Ogburn, expert in building multi-stakeholder collaboration. Research scientist for the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, Gary Krupnick, will moderate the session.
Earth Optimism celebrates a change in focus from problem to solution in the area of global conservation with an unprecedented gathering of thought leaders, scientists, environmentalists, artists, civic leaders and international media. To purchase tickets, click here. On Sunday, programs are open and free to the public.
Just as I drove in my driveway yesterday, I noticed a monarch butterfly where we planted milkweed several years ago. She flew away just as I approached. Holding my breath, I inched toward the tender milkweed plant, with its four newly emerged leaves and lifted a leaf. There was her egg! It may sound corny, but it was one of the most exciting moments of my life.
I am fairly new to monarch conservation having only gotten involved with pollinators when my husband became a beekeeper in 2008 which led me to found Bee City USA in 2012. But across the United States, for many years devoted citizen scientists have marked spring by noting when they see their first monarch and their first monarch egg on the Journey North site. Their records have led to new discoveries about the monarch migration.
Recently, the Monarch Joint Venture (MJV) named Bee City USA a "partner," a proud moment for us. The Monarch Joint Venture is a partnership of federal and state agencies, non-governmental agencies, and academic programs working together to protect monarchs and their migration. Partners are experts in the fields of monarch conservation and education and are working to make colossal progress toward MJV's ultimate goal of monarch conservation in the U.S. in cooperation with conservationists in Canada and Mexico. You can read about the North American Monarch Conservation Plan here.
Bee City USA and its sister program, Bee Campus USA, represent growing national networks of communities and academic institutions across America committed to pollinator conservation. That conservation starts with awareness, then education, and finally enhanced habitat for pollinators, rich in a diversity of locally native plants that are free of harmful pesticides.
Milkweed is baby food for monarch caterpillars, but when they become adult butterflies, they don't eat milkweed leaves anymore. Indeed, their new mouthparts couldn't chew a leaf if they wanted to! As you watch a newborn monarch butterfly emerging from their bejeweled chrysalis, you will witness their straw-like proboscis roll out in two parts and magically join together--zipperlike--never to separate again. Their "tongue" is uniquely designed for carefully plunging into flower nectaries to supply the carbohydrates necessary for flight.
Bee City USA urges everyone to plant locally native milkweed in their yard, and if you don't have a yard, join forces with community organizations to plant milkweed. The monarchs will find it! The bonus is that milkweed provides plentiful nectar for a wide variety of pollinators, including most species of bees.
I dream of a day when once again children can look up to see migrating monarchs blacken out the sun.
Phyllis Stiles is founder and director of Bee City USA. Learn more about Bee City USA here.
The USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service is celebrating Pollinator Awareness Month: "Animal pollinators are needed for the reproduction of 90% of flowering plants and one third of human food crops. Pollinators include bees, butterflies, moths, beetles, flies, birds, and bats. Each of us depends on pollinators in a practical way to provide us with the wide range of foods we eat. In addition, pollinators are part of the intricate web that supports the biological diversity in natural ecosystems that helps sustain our quality of life. Abundant and healthy populations of pollinators can improve fruit set and quality, and increase fruit size. In farming situations this increases production per acre. In the wild, biodiversity increases and wildlife food sources increase.
The Plant Materials Program is working to select plants and provide recommendations on plants which will enhance pollinator populations throughout the growing season. These wildflowers, trees, shrubs, and grasses are an integral part of the conservation practices that landowners, farmers and ranchers install as part of their conservation plan." You can find a full list of resources here.
High-quality habitat is not partial to the species that it welcomes; birds, bees, butterflies and more find the resources that they need in pollinator habitat! Without pollinators, our diets would be void of essential nutrients that we require. “Bee City USA will be a great addition to the Monarch Joint Venture partnership;” says Wendy Caldwell, MJV Coordinator, “their ability to foster community partnerships around pollinators will help unify our efforts across the nation.”
Bee City USA embraces MJV’s collaborative approach by encouraging individual and community action and facilitating creative, constructive community partnerships. Collaboration, both national and local, is their mantra. Bee City USA’s national network of cities and academic institutions partnering for pollinator conservation is a strong foundation in which monarch conservation efforts can be integrated.
“Monarchs and honey bees are ‘gateway species’ for pollinator conservation, capturing the imagination and inspiring broad interest in pollinator conservation generally. Even though the bee genera have more impact on food security, individuals and institutions are sometimes afraid of inviting stinging bees into their landscapes, while they welcome butterflies. The reality is that monarch habitat supports almost all pollinators—including diverse native bee species, and offers ongoing educational opportunities, “ says Bee City USA Executive Director Phyllis Stiles. “Bee City USA embraces MJV’s collaborative approach. We are excited to invite our national network of cities and academic institutions to join forces with Monarch Joint Venture on local and national projects to educate communities on how to sustain monarch butterflies throughout their life cycle by providing them with locally native milkweed plants and other nectar-rich plants for their adult stage.”
Recognizing that pollinators are responsible for the reproduction of 90% of the world's wild plant species and for one in three bites of the food we consume, Bee City USA galvanizes communities and educational campuses to sustain all pollinators (including monarchs), by creating healthy habitat containing a variety of native plants and reducing pesticide use. Bee City USA’s mission is to build Americans’ capacity to share their built environments with pollinators and other wildlife by simulating native landscapes as much as possible.
Bee City USA launched in Asheville, North Carolina, in June 2012 and now has certified affiliates in 26 states with many more in the process of building their coalitions. As of April 2017, 44 cities (including Seattle, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.) have been certified as Bee City USA affiliates. In April 2015, they launched a companion program, Bee Campus USA, for educational institutions and already have certified 22 institutions of higher education. Lists of current affiliates with maps for each program are on the beecityusa.org website.
To participate, cities, counties and campuses must formally apply for Bee City USA certification. Cities or counties must also have their highest elected body adopt a resolution that outlines their commitments. Central to those commitments is deputizing a standing committee to serve as the voice of the pollinators in landscaping and pest management decisions going forward. Through public/private partnerships, once a community or academic institution becomes “PC” (pollinator conscious), not only do they host educational events and post signage about pollinator habitat, they also choose many more locally native plants for public landscapes and encourage their citizenry to do the same. Likewise, they begin practicing integrated pest management and educate their community to do so as well. They also are encouraged to support local native nurseries that supply pesticide-free, locally native plant species.
For more information on Bee City USA’s goals, projects and resources, visit our website.
The Monarch Joint Venture is a national partnership of federal and state agencies, non-governmental organizations, and academic programs working together to conserve the monarch butterfly migration. The content in this article does not necessarily reflect the positions of all Monarch Joint Venture partners.
Darby Communications, a boutique public relations agency specializing in the outdoor, fitness and wellness industries, has announced the selections for the 2017 Stand Up Initiative. Launched in February, the program supports select environmentally-focused non-profit organizations with pro bono PR-related services. With the goal of helping to protect and preserve the environment and public lands, Darby Communications chose four organizations making significant positive impacts on the environment, they include: American Alpine Club, Grand Staircase-Escalante Partners, The Collider and Bee City USA.
To kick off the program, Darby Communications will work with the American Alpine Club (AAC), a non-profit that focuses on advocacy and leadership to support the climbing community and promote conservation. Together the organizations will work towards educating the climbing community about the importance of public lands and heighten awareness around the policy work the AAC is doing to preserve our natural spaces. “We believe that as climbers, we bear the important responsibility of protecting the places we climb and sustaining the climbing community,” says AAC Policy Director Maria Povec. “We are thrilled to have the support of Darby Communications to share our message and encourage climbers to stand up for the wild places we all enjoy.”
The second beneficiary is the Grand Staircase-Escalante Partners, a non-profit committed to preserving and protecting the 1.9 million acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument for the use and enjoyment of future generations. Darby Communications will proudly support their campaign to raise awareness about the monument and the importance of protecting it against threats being made to Utah’s public lands.
The final two recipients of the 2017 Stand Up Initiative, Bee City USA and The Collider, are based in Darby Communications’ hometown of Asheville, North Carolina. Bee City USA endorses a set of commitments for creating sustainable habitats for pollinators which are vital to feeding the planet. Through the Initiative, they seek to share their mission to sustain pollinators by providing them with a healthy habitat. Kicking off the first quarter of 2018, Darby will assist The Collider, an innovation center that exists to bring together diverse expertise and stimulate a new industry of climate products and services globally. The focus of the pro bono services will be to assist The Collider with awareness around ClimateCon 2018, their inaugural conference on the business of climate.
To learn more about the Stand Up Initiative, please visit darbycommunications.com/standup or contact Megan Torgerson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Darby Communications
A public relations firm dedicated to meeting and surpassing the needs of their clientele with customized PR and promotional programs, Darby Communications works with many of the outdoor industry’s most respected companies. The firm’s clients include Astral, Aventura, Ecōths, Feetures!, Granite Gear, Headsweats, Hyland’s, Industrial Revolution, Sierra Designs and Tailwind Nutrition. For more information, visit darbycommunications.com and on Instagram.
What fun to see mason bees and honey bees on the crabapple tree yesterday! When the trees start budding and tiny plants push their first leaves out of the ground, gardeners are itching to grab their shovels. Each Bee City USA and Bee Campus USA affiliate is committed to developing a local recommended species list of native plants, and they are encouraged to identify local nurseries who propagate those plants free of harmful pesticides.
Asheville, North Carolina's recommended species list is presented as an example as the first item on the Bee City USA Resources page. The last column tells you which nurseries carry each plant, and the nurseries are provided on the last page of the list.
Jean Harrison of Red Root Natives, a small nursery near Asheville, recently contacted us to let us know what they offer this year. This is a good time to check in with local native nurseries like Red Root Natives and to promote them through social media, garden clubs, neighborhood listservs....
Because plants and pollinators co-evolved over millions of years, our native bees, butterflies, moths, beetles, hummingbirds and flower flies are counting on these native plants for their very survival and vice versa. (Our honey bee friends aren't very picky and love the native flowers as much as herbs from Europe!) Indeed, 90% of wild plant species depend on pollinators for their reproduction.
The monarchs are making their way north from Mexico and California right now, so don't forget to include local milkweed species in your gardens for hungry monarch butterfly caterpillars as well as nectar for all kinds of pollinators.
Happy gardening and pollinator watching!
The Farmers' Market will be abuzz on April 29 as Gillette celebrates Pollinator Day! Among the sixteen seminars, you can choose Bee Hotels, Cooking With Honey, Flowers for Pollinators in Landscapes, Insects in the Garden, Native Bees for Wyoming, and What's the Bug? The keynote speaker is Benjamin Vogt, a well-known writer about gardening. He will make two presentations: Designing Urban Prairie Gardens, and Native Plants that Support Native Pollinators. Read all about it here.
Gillette was certified as a Bee City USA affiliate on April 18, 2016. Each affiliate commits to hosting at least one pollinator awareness event each year.
Register Now--Organic Growers School March 11-12!
Back by popular demand, Organic Growers School Spring Conference is back on the UNC Asheville campus with more than 150 workshops on topics ranging from cooking to mushrooms to pollinators.
Bee City USA has partnered with Organic Growers School to offer a pollinator track with outstanding presenters:
Creating Monarch Habitats - Kim Bailey
Invite monarchs to lunch by growing milkweed and providing a succession of nectar plants throughout the season! Take an in-depth look at monarch natural history, migration, and habitat needs. Discuss pollinator plant propagation, techniques for rearing caterpillars indoors, and explore related citizen-science projects.
Enhancing Farm Diversity to Support Pollinators - Nancy Lee Adamson
Floral diversity on farms supports pollinators and many other insects that benefit our farms, gardens, and watersheds. Learn about some of our smaller farm heroes: the most common types of bees, wasps, flies, beetles, and other wildlife that help ensure healthy harvests.
Growing Native Plants from Seed - Pat Sommers
Discuss seed morphology, pollination and the importance of species plants in a highly hybridized world. You'll plant two six-packs with a variety of native seeds while learning germination requirements and the what, how and why of growing them.
Integrating Pollinators into the Garden - Angie Lavezzo
Learn the benefits of attracting pollinators to your vegetable gardens for boosting natural pest control, increased yields, and overall beauty.
Meet the 'Other' Bees - Jill Sidebottom
Native bees were the New World's pollinator work horses long before the honey bee was brought here from Europe. Discover the rich diversity of native bees in western NC, and learn how to recognize the most common groups and how to increase them in your garden or farm.
Plant-Pollinator Interactions - Tim Spira
Have you ever wondered why there is such an incredible diversity of flower shapes, sizes, colors, and fragrances in nature? Discover how plant-pollinator interactions have been a key force generating the diversity of flowers that we see in nature.
Who Pollinates Your Food? - Phyllis Stiles
Plants and their pollinators co-evolved over millions of years in mutually beneficial ways. Today three-quarters of the world's crops benefit from pollinators, either for producing seeds or improving the quality and/or quantity of yields. Get ready to be amazed at how crafty flowers can be!
Half-Day Workshop: Beekeeping Basics - Sarah Eshan McKinney & Diane Almond
Learn what's involved with the magic of honeybees: time, money, equipment, and management options and issues to enjoy and sustain healthy hives. Class will be taught through PowerPoint, beekeeping equipment, and handouts.
Can You Help? Organic Growers School Needs Moderators for Spring Conference
Moderating is a VERY IMPORTANT job. Moderators represent OGS and are OGS' eyes and ears in the classrooms to ensure that everything is running smoothly. Contact Sera Deva if you are interested in volunteering for Organic Growers School.
Learn more here.
Moderator Time Commitments:
Friday Moderator Training (all Sat/Sun moderators) at UNCA: 6:00pm-7:00pm in Karpen 244 (second floor, facing the quad) with Karin and Lee. The training will cover what we expect from our moderators, as well as a crash course in using a Smart Classroom.
Friday Pre-Conference Moderators: 9:15am-4:45pm
Saturday Moderators: 8:45am-12:30pm, 1:45pm-5:30pm
Sunday Moderators: 8:45am-12:30pm, 1:45pm-5:30pm
Door Monitor: Before your track begins, stand at the door and make sure that everyone entering has a wrist band. If someone does not have a wristband, please send them to Conference Headquarters.
Take Attendance: This is very important because it lets OGS know how popular the classes were. "Attendance" in this case just means counting all the people who came.
Classroom Setup, Management & Troubleshooting: You will manage the flow of chairs, people, and space. Make seating suggestions, move chairs around, and assure that the classroom is comfortable (in temperature and atmosphere as well). If there are AV issues or problems with light, sound, etc., please try to solve the problem or contact the Volunteer Coordinator.
FACILITATE during questioning for the speaker. Example: If four people raise their hands at the same time, you can "stack", meaning, you will delegate who goes 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. Many speakers will do this themselves, but sometimes it is helpful for you to assist. Check with the speaker to find out if they'd prefer to have questions throughout the class or a time towards the end specifically as a questions/answer session.
Time Management: Ask the teacher how they would prefer help with time management and give them appropriate signals at halfway, 30 minutes left, 10 minutes left and time.
Announcements: Welcome everyone to the Annual Spring Conference! This class is (state the exact name of the class so people can tell if they are in the right place). Make housekeeping announcements.
Complete an Evaluation Form FOR EACH CLASS: This is very important because it lets OGS know how popular the classes were. "Attendance" in this case just means counting all the people in the class about halfway through. Please be sure to return your moderator folder, with evaluations included, to OGS Headquarters. This is really important feedback for our future planning.
Cleanup: Please make sure the space is completely cleaned up or transitioned to the next class before you leave.
Photos (Optional): Please take some photos and send them to email@example.com to build OGS' library of images.
Twitter (Optional): Are you a twitter user and/or Instagram user? Tweet/Post about the conference with hashtag #SpringConference17 or tag @organicgrowersschool!
Blog Write Up (Optional): OGS would love to publish a write up of the class you are attending in your name, which we'll share through social media.
***Moderating is one of the most important jobs you can possibly have! Please know that the information you will be procuring for OGS and the services you will be providing are essential to the conference! We appreciate your time and willingness to help out!
Bee City USA Director Phyllis Stiles and Bee City USA Science Advisory Board member Dr. Doug Tallamy, founder of the Bringing Nature Home movement, will be just two of the 100 speakers from around the globe at the Smithsonian's Earth Optimism Summit in Washington over the April 21-23 weekend. The Summit at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center is complemented by other public events and exhibits at Smithsonian Institutions.
Here's what the event site says about this unprecedented summit:
"What's Working in Conservation: Earth Optimism celebrates a change in focus from problem to solution in the area of global conservation with an unprecedented gathering of thought leaders, scientists, environmentalists, artists, civic leaders and international media.
The global conservation movement has reached a turning point. We have documented the fast pace of habitat loss, the growing number of endangered and extinct species, and the increasing speed of global climate change. Yet while the seriousness of these threats cannot be denied, there are a growing number of examples of improvements in the health of species and ecosystems, along with benefits to human well-being, thanks to our conservation actions. Earth Optimism is a global initiative that celebrates a change in focus from problem to solution, from a sense of loss to one of hope, in the dialogue about conservation and sustainability."
Register here to take advantage of Early Bird Specials. Students are highly encouraged to attend and there is a student rate.
Join the #EarthOptimism movement - get people talking about what's working near you http://earthoptimism.si.edu/satellite-events/http://earthoptimism.si.edu/satellite-events/
Or to make it really simple, just go on twitter, search for #EarthOptimism, and retweet your favorite posts.
By Kim Bailey
The 2016-2017 population estimate for monarch butterflies overwintering in Mexico was announced on February 9. Because the butterflies are clustered so closely at their overwintering sites, individual monarchs cannot be counted. Instead, the area of forest that is densely coated with butterflies is measured. This winter, the area occupied by the butterfly colonies covers 7.19 acres (2.91 hectares) and contains an estimated 146 million butterflies. This represents a 27% decrease compared to last year’s survey, which is conducted every winter in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve by scientists from World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Mexico.
Some good news is this winter’s population estimate is actually higher than had been expected by many. The 2016 season began with catastrophic ice/snow storm that struck the overwintering colonies in March (after the 2015-2016 winter population measurements had been made) just as the migration north was beginning. Low numbers of adult butterflies were subsequently reported in the U.S. during the spring of 2016.
A graph of historic population records (measured in acres) is available at the Journey North website. Overwintering monarchs reached a peak population covering 44.93 acres in the winter of 1996-1997 and show a long-term average of about 15 acres. Though this winter’s estimate is the second largest population measurement reported in the past six seasons, it is still 47% below the long-term average.
Researchers, non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, and agencies have been collaborating under the Monarch Conservation Science Partnership to identify targets for monarch conservation. By 2020, the primary objective is to increase monarch population numbers to 6 hectares (about 15 acres) of area occupied in Mexico, or approximately 225 million individual butterflies. To reach this goal, habitat restoration is essential. The 2016 Monarch Conservation Implementation Plan calls for the addition of at least 1 to 1.5 billion milkweed stems (needed for monarch reproduction) and the abundant nectar resources to support monarch migration.
While monarch and other pollinator populations have been plummeting, public awareness and interest participating in their recovery has been surging. The groundswell of efforts to plant more milkweed and other pollinator-friendly plants across the United States is extremely encouraging. Bee City USA and Bee Campus USA affiliates, along with concerned organizations and individuals, many in cooperation with government agencies, are increasing their efforts to spread awareness of the monarchs' plight. Monarch Watch even offers free milkweed plants appropriate to the locale to nonprofit organizations that commit to large scale habitat restoration. More and more nurseries are making milkweed and other native plants available to home gardeners wanting to do their part to help. Let's not be the last generation to see the great monarch migration!
In addition to becoming a certified Bee City USA or Bee Campus USA affiliate, here are ways you can help:
1) Create a pollinator garden and inform others by registering, certifying and/or posting a pollinator habitat sign.
About the Author
Bee City USA Board Member Kim Bailey recently returned from visiting several monarch sanctuaries in Mexico. Kim first visited the sanctuaries in 2002 and has since co-led several trips to the area. With an M.S. in Curriculum and Instruction - Science Education, and environmental educator for over 20 years, Kim has enjoyed a wide range of experiences including teaching middle school life science, leading wilderness adventure trips, conducting ecology outreach programs, directing outdoor education programs, and training teachers and naturalists. She has also volunteered for the National Wildlife Federation Habitat Stewards, Master Gardeners, Georgia Native Plant Society, and Monarchs Across Georgia. After 14 years coordinating a statewide environmental education program for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, she fulfilled her longtime dream of launching Milkweed Meadows Farm in Fruitland, NC. She now enjoys growing milkweed, wildflowers, fruits, and vegetables; producing open-pollinated seeds for Sow True Seed; keeping bees and raising butterflies. Kim also works for the Captain Planet Foundation as their Curriculum Editor. The Foundation has a strong focus on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education through engaging youth in environmental stewardship projects and schoolyard gardening programs. In particular, their ecoSTEM® Resource Kits, Project Hero, and Project Learning Garden programs aim to empower students to help protect pollinators.
Header photo by: Nancy Lee Adamson
These are the opinions and events of interest to the Bee City USA director and board.