As I huddle in my house in Asheville, NC, on a very cold, snowy winter day, the promise of Spring makes me smile with anticipation of 100 shades of green; flowers of every size, shape and color; and bees and butterflies flitting around them with long tongues outstretched to drink in their sweet nectar.
Then I remember that Earth Day is April 22 and Arbor Day is generally the last Friday in April (April 29, 2017) or whenever conditions are ideal for tree planting in your area.
It's hard to imagine a better way to celebrate either Arbor Day or Earth Day than by gathering people together for a screening of the inspiring and affordable documentary Hometown Habitats: Stories of Bringing Nature Home. The film has a companion book and screening and discussion guides. To see if a screening is already planned for your area, look here.
This exquisite conversation with Americans of all ages, socioeconomic conditions, educational levels, and political persuasions, showcases how they (people just like you and me) are creating outstanding habitat opportunities for pollinators, birds and other critters everywhere, from New York City to Miami Beach to Denver.
If you want to start the conversation in your community, I urge you to gather your friends and neighbors, including landscapers, land trusts, Sierra Club chapters, plant nurseries, Master Gardeners, native plant societies, Audubon Societies, Parks & Recreation Staff, etc.--anybody remotely interested in landscaping--to watch this documentary and begin brainstorming ways to bring nature home.
The second heaviest user of pesticides in Europe, France, has banned the use of pesticides for weed control in public parks, gardens and forests, citing protecting public and pollinator health as the motivation. This is the first such national ban in the world. Read the story here.
The story also mentions Bee City USA afiliate, Seattle's, bans of pesticides in fourteen of its city parks since 2001.
In response to protests by French and other European beekeepers, European countries placed a moratorium on nenonicotinoid insecticide use as prophylactic seed treatments on certain commodity crops in 2013 and 2014. Recent reports reveal that not only did crop yields not decrease as a result of the moratorium, in some cases they increased.
If you’re in Asheville, bring your travel mug and stop by one of Green Sage Café’s three locations to purchase a tasty beverage to support Bee City USA®.
From January 1 to April 30, 2017, Green Sage Café has chosen Bee City USA to be its “Cup Worthy” recipient!
The Cup Worthy program is one element of Green Sage Café’s commitment to sustainability. The program donates 20 cents to a local nonprofit every time a
customer supplies a reusable travel mug for their to-go beverage rather than using a paper cup. Americans use an estimated 16 billion paper cups annually! Yikes, that translates to over 6.5 million trees cut down per year!
Bee City USA® is honored and grateful to Green Sage Café for the financial support and the publicity for our work of making the world safer for pollinators, one city and one campus at a time.
Breaking News! Xerces Posts Online Annotated Bibliography of Research on Pesticide Impacts on Pollinators & Other Beneficial Insects
Research on pollinators has skyrocketed in the past few years. In 2012, the Xerces Society published a report called "Are Neonicotinoids Killing Bees?" Their follow-up report, "How Neonicotinoids Can Kill Bees," has removed the question mark. A growing bibliography is available here.
Read Aimee Code's, Xerces Pesticide Management Program Director's, story here.
More than 100 bee advocates were invited to participate in a 3-day conference in Marin County, California from December 10-13. The public summary presentation by thought leaders Mark Winston, Tom Seeley, Marla Spivak, Jim Frazier, William Klett, Stephen Martin, Heather Mattila, and Chaz Mraz will be held tonight at Dominican University.
Conference organizer Bonnie Morse would have been hard-pressed to find an opening speaker who could have charged us to be more audacious--Larry Brilliant, the first leader of Google.org and a leader of a public health team that successfully eradicated small pox as a public health threat.
The conference mantra was to be open-minded and think big. Stay tuned for the audacious ideas spawned by both a sense of urgency to reverse pollinator declines and a willingness to listen intently to one another.
Representatives from five Bee City USA affiliates attended: Laura Bee from Ashland, OR; Sharon Schmidt from Phoenix, OR; Bob Redmond from Seattle, WA; Patricia Algara from San Francisco, CA; and Phyllis Stiles, director of Bee City USA, from Asheville, NC.
Lee Finney shared this account of recent Bee City USA Gold Hill activities.
At the beginning of October I attended a Can Do meeting and requested volunteer help in creating a ‘Pollinator Habitat’ garden alongside the Rogue River in Gold Hill, Oregon. Can Do is the community nonprofit that sponsored Gold Hill as the 26th Bee City USA affiliate this past July. We are following in the bee steps of Talent, Ashland, and Phoenix, our sister pollinator friendly cities in Southern Oregon.
October was turning out to be very rainy, so I kept an eye on the weather and announced our planting day just 2 days in advance. Ten people (and the sun) showed up at 10am with tools, gloves, wheelbarrows, and a eagerness to help our pollinators. We created gardens and paths with the river rock that was nearby.
To reward my volunteers I served up bowls of homemade vegetable lentil soup for well deserved lunch break. After lunch we spread more soil and then broadcast 1000’s of seeds over the newly created garden areas. We then stomped on the seeds to make sure they had good contact with the soil.
The seeds had been harvested from my own pollinator friendly gardens. I grew a mix of herbs and flowers which included some natives. Seeds included were Aster, Echinacea, Shasta, Oregon Sunshine, Agastache, Coyote Mint, Calendula, Bee Balm, Lavender, Oregano, Catnip, Marigolds, Penstemon, Goldenrod, Poppies, Thyme, Zinnia, and Phacelia.
Got milkweed? Yes! After convincing a landowner not to mow down her field of Showy and Narrow Leaf Milkweed, I and another volunteer harvested seed pods, with permission, from her property. We all had fun letting this large quantity of seed fly from our hands and land wherever, just helping out Mother Nature.
The garden will start blooming in Spring and will continue on throughout the Fall, providing host and nectar sources for butterflies, bees, moths, and all insects. It is my hope that this easy seed sown demonstration garden will inspire others in Gold Hill to do the same in their own yards.
Mayor Butch Berry and Ken Trimble, a member of the Eureka Springs Pollinator Alliance, recognized how essential bees and other pollinators are to our planet's resilience. That's why they led the charge for Eureka Springs to become Arkansas's first Bee City USA affiliate. Read all about it here.
Researchers Kirsten Traynor, Dennis vanEngelsdorp, Jeffery Pettis, David Tarpy, Christopher Mullin, James Frazier and Maryann Frazier have published groundbreaking research in Nature Scientific Reports that reveals the sum total of the pesticides (insecticides, fungicides and herbicides) a colony is exposed to over its "lifetime" as a superorganism predicts queen failure and colony death. Most noteworthy, although fungicides have been considered safe for bees, they found that "fungicides with particular modes of action increased disproportionately in wax within colonies that died."
The study was designed to "attempt to summarize potential risk from multiple contaminations in real-world contexts." Rather than assessing individual bees, they followed more than 90 hives on their "migration" as they pollinated commercial crops, sampling wax, stored pollen, and bees along the way for pesticide compound content.
The research paper, “In-hive Pesticide Exposome: Assessing risks to migratory honey bees from in-hive pesticide contamination in the Eastern United States,” was published in the online journal Nature Scientific Reports on September 15, 2016.
ABJ (American Bee Journal) Extra released an excellent article about the study on September 14, 2016.
Thanks to pollinator advocates Supervisor Katy Tang, landscape architect Patricia Algara, and city department of the Environement staff Mei Ling Hui, and others for increasing awareness of how each patch of land in San Francisco could be contributing to the survival of hardworking pollinators. Soon, Bee City USA hopes to count San Francisco in the Bee City USA afiliate network of cities and counties across America that are considering pollinating bees, butterflies, moths, bats, hummingbirds, beetles, and even some flies in their development and landscaping plans. Read on: http://hoodline.com/2016/09/protecting-pollinators-san-francisco-sets-sights-on-bee-city-designation
Header photo by: Nancy Lee Adamson
These are the opinions and events of interest to the Bee City USA director and board.