Remember when seven of the 60+ known yellow-faced bee species in Hawaii were added to the Endangered Species list in 2016, and the once common rusty-patched bumblebee was listed in 2017?
Yellow-faced bees are Hawaii's only native bee species. As the primary pollinator of the naupaka, a beach shrub native to the islands, as they go, so goes the naupaka.
In both cases, arrows point to climate change, invasive plant species, habitat loss, diseases, parasites and pesticides as synergistic contributors to their demise. Nevertheless, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and conservation biologists are hopeful that endangered status will strengthen plans to help the insects.
Recently we received promising news that rusty-patched bumblebees still inhabit the Eastern United States, at least in Virginia; and consequently, they could receive more protections in an effort to help the species rebound--IF the federal government continues to administer the Endangered Species Act.
According to Rich Hatfield, Senior Conservation Biologist with the Xerces Society, "Since 1973, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) has been at the forefront of species protection, placing the United States as a world leader in science-based conservation. The ESA is our nation’s most effective law for protecting animals and plants in danger of extinction, and has prevented 99 percent of listed species from going extinct. Despite how effective this law has been at its intended purpose, the current administration has its sights on weakening the ESA to the detriment of the species it was designed to protect."
John Muir said, "When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe." Which species is expendable? While no one has the knowledge to answer that question, scientists consider biological diversity our best weapon again the impacts of climate change. Greater species numbers and larger population sizes give organisms more adaptability to survive.
The comment period for the proposed changes to the ESA ends on September 24, 2018 at 11:59 p.m. EDT. You can let your federal legislators know that you support the Endangered Species Act. Read Xerces blog on how here.
Photos Above: Mead and honey sales at Oregon Honey festival, and educational booth at North Carolina Honey Festival.
What happens at honey festivals besides talking to beekeepers and tasting honey? The list is endless, but here's a sampling: speeches by honey bee and pollinator experts, bee beards, mead competitions and tastings, Honey Queen pageants, honey bake offs, hive inspections, foods and beer made with honey, kids bee crafts, photo contests, bee art (made by people, not bees), and live music.
Produced by honey bees that literally gather one flower nectar droplet at a time, transport the nectar to the hive in their honey stomachs, "regurgitate" it to pass it from bee to bee using their proboscises (their "tongues") mixing it with saliva rich in enzymes with each exchange, store it in wax cells, cure it by flapping their wings to reduce its water content, and then seal it with a wax cap. Simple, right? Intact honey has been found in Egyptian pharaohs' tombs! Watch the "The Bee Colony as a Honey Factory" lecture by Dr. Thomas Seeley here. This ability to store food through the winter is what makes them the only "perennial" bees out of the temperate world's 20,000+ species of bees. While individual honey bees live relatively short lives, the colony may live for many years.
Ironically, in North America, honey bees are an introduced bee species from Europe. Before colonists brought them in 1622, there were no honey-making bees here. Now European honey bees are making friends for all of their 4000 native bee cousins (think bumble, blueberry, mining, sweat, carpenter, mason, leaf cutter, squash...).
Of all 20,000 bee species, bumble bees are most like honey bees in that they have a queen and worker bees and live as colonies, albeit much smaller ones. But they die out in late fall leaving only mated queens to hide away somewhere waiting for spring to lay her worker bee eggs and start a new colony. Otherwise, bees of most species live only a few weeks as adults and sustain their species from year to year by surviving winter as larvae or pupae. They are solitary bees; they don't have colonies like honey and bumble bees. They also rarely sting because (excuse the pun) there's no point! If they die while stinging, no other bees will guard their small nests. Each solitary female bee may lay as much as 20 eggs, but she will never see them become adults.
NOTE: Bee City USA is especially excited for guest blog posts from our affiliate cities and campuses.
Guest Blog by Diana Reynolds Roome, reproduced with permission from Talent [Oregon] News & Review and the author, Diana Reynolds Roome.
For mosaic artist Karen Rycheck, any giant slab of bare concrete looks like a blank canvas.
Last year, she noticed that the outdoor stage between City Hall and the Library could be the perfect place to declare Talent's dedication to vital pollinator insects and the plants that feed them.
"We have this designation," said Karen, referring to Talent's 2014 declaration as a Bee City USA (the second in the nation.). "But few people know that we're a Bee City or what that means. I want to make the commitment obvious. Let's stick to that and honor it."
Scores of people apparently agree. Many have taken the project into their own hands, literally, by taking one or more mosaic workshops at Karen's studio in Talent. Under her careful guidance,, they have fashioned an explosion of colorful glass and ceramic flowers, often surprising themselves.
"Working with Karen and helping on the mosaic mural project has given me so much confidence and artistic freedom," said Noel Hastings, who has come from Grant's Pass multiple times with her sister and a friend. 'Sitting side-by-side with other artists, each with our own flair and style and with Karen's direction, has allowed me to be free in my own thoughts."
For Carol Berger, a retired occupational therapist in Talent, the mosaic has been an opportunity to highlight the importance of flowers and pollinators. "I have a pollinator garden and this project gives me one more opportunity to promote this cause and have a lot of fun at the same time, "she said.
Flowers will express the major theme in a mosaic 32 feet long by 19 inches tall, to be installed on the lower front of Talent's outdoor stage in time for this year's Harvest Festival. It will have the words Bee City USA - Talent blazoned across the front, and will swarm with insects and bees as well as flowers of every imaginable shape and color.
Bees and butterflies will be portrayed in detail, fashioned by Karen herself. These will be based on several speciific species and because of this they take exceptional skill. For this project, Karen has done a lot of research into different types of pollinators and how they relate to specific blooms.
I'll place each insect on the flower it would probably be pollinating," Karen said. "That's what I love about these projects. I like the educational component, I enjoy doing research and learning things."
Read the entire story here.
Note: For regional native plant guides that support pollinators, visit the Xerces Society.
NOTE: Bee City USA is especially excited for guest blog posts from our affiliate cities and campuses.
Guest Blog by Kristina Lefever, Ashland, Oregon reproduced with Permission from The Ashland Daily Tidings
Even with the seemingly unending issues that we are dealing with — especially smoke and fire — we are fortunate to live where we do. Not only is this an amazing part of the country, Ashland is home to a large population of passionate people working on issues to make our city, county and world a better place.
I’d like to give a “hat tip” to the passionate and dedicated Ashland residents who made Bee City USA Ashland’s second annual Pollinator Garden Tour, on Sunday, July 15, a success! Sixteen gardens were on the tour this year, all different and all bee-autiful.
Thank you to those gardeners who worked so hard to bee ready, and then graciously shared your gardens and knowledge with many visitors for several hours that morning. And of course, thank you to Ashland Parks and Rec and the Bee City USA-Ashland team for making it all possible! Our hope is that people found both inspiration and ideas to grow their own pollinator landscapes.
National Pollinator Week (always the third full week of June) is an especially opportune time for raising pollinator awareness. This year Bee Campus USA teamed up with the University of Connecticut-Storrs, Portland Community College and UNC Asheville to present a webinar explaining the Bee Campus USA commitments and application process to the members of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). The recording is available on You Tube or at AASHE's Campus Sustainability Hub.
Bee City USA and Bee Campus USA affiliates have been supplying regular updates on how they are mobilizing their communities to reverse pollinator decline during Pollinator Week. They offered entertaining and educational activities for all ages and invited any willing organizations to host events to achieve Bee City USA's mission of "galvanizing communities to sustain pollinators." Here are a few "postcards."
In Salisbury, Maryland, the Salisbury Zoo took the lead for the Week and welcomed over 1159 visitors on June 23. Three beekeepers presented that day and the Cooperative Extension office and Master Gardeners led a pollinator craft. Bees weren't the only pollinators being celebrated at the Salisbury Zoo. Visitors were able to learn about a new conservation and research partnership between the Zoo, Salisbury University, and Maryland Department of Natural Resources geared towards saving the frosted elfin, a native butterfly species listed as endangered by several states, but not federally listed. Children created houses for cavity nesting bees out of tin cans and bamboo; and donned wings and posed for pollinator selfies. (See photo above) Guests received literature on how to make their yard pollinator friendly. The Zoo had a mini vegetable garden display talking about pollination and the Herb Society led a tour about pollinators and herbs. There were lots of posts on the Zoo’s social media about National Pollinator Week and how links to other interesting sites on bee-friendly gardening and facts about bees. They decided the bee dance exhibit needs music and a leader to get it going!
Denton, Texas, partnered with local libraries, the Denton County Beekeepers Association, a Master Naturalist from the Elm Fork Trinity, and the Painted Flower Farm (local native nursery) to offer a variety of events throughout the week. SCRAP Denton, a local creative reuse store and donation center, offered hands-on crafts with flower, butterfly, and bee themes for children. The library hosted a special pollinator-themed Story Time and sang songs about bees and butterflies. followed by planting in the Pollinator Garden. Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center hosted a class for children, presented by the Denton County Beekeepers Association, about the life of the honey bees, pollination, and how important pollinators are to the environment.
"Beecatur" held a total of 10 events during the week including a Native Plants Talk & Sale, a Pollinator Portraits photography exhibition, a pollinator photo safari, a pollinator puppet-making and storytelling for kids, and a screening of The Guardians at Agnes Scott College. This newly released film led to a lively conversation about Monarchs, and pollinators generally.
Gillette engaged Farmers Market visitors in conversation about pollinators and food, and hosted a Pollinator Count at the Urban Orchard, and planted milkweed.
Talent not only dedicated their new City Hall pollinator garden, they also re-certified several local pollinator gardens and added couple of new ones.
Mountain Home, Idaho
Mountain Home's Farmer's Market went right to the stomach to make friends for pollinators! They hosted Pollinator Appreciation Day on June 23 complete with free chicken and shrimp BBQ glazed in honey & garlic and honey dressed salads courtesy of the University of Idaho Extension-Elmore County. Enticing Market visitors with honey, Extension volunteers in bee costumes talked to them about beekeeping and shared an entomology box with pinned native bees.
Surry Community College, Dobson, NC
Surry Community College got a jump on National Pollinator Week in the spring! They hosted Buzz Fest, an official event of the 2018 North Carolina Science Festival presented by the Biogen Foundation, a month-long effort to celebrate hands-on science activities. Free and open to the public, Buzz Fest engaged college classes, the community, home school groups, and local school systems. Led by SCC Biology Instructor Grayson Patton and facilitated by students in Environmental Science, Horticulture, and Botany classes, the Bio Blitz was a scavenger hunt-like activity focused on finding and documenting local insect pollinators and their associated host plants. Participants explored vast natural areas surrounding campus to collect images of insects and plants which were later uploaded to the event group page and identified using the iNaturalist smartphone app. Amy Moyle spoke on “Technology & Beekeeping” and Debbie Roos lectured on “Pollinator Gardening."
Local facilitator, Asheville GreenWorks, invited organizations and businesses across the Asheville area to host Pollination Celebration! events throughout the month of June, resulting in more than fifteen events for young and old. The photo above shows a stop on the pollinator-focused garden tour at Bee Campus USA-UNC-Asheville.
Working in conjunction with more than 20 local organizations, Bee City USA-Seattle hosted a variety of events, kicking off with a Bee Photo Exhibit at Central Co-op, by biologist and wild-pollinator photographer, Will Peterman. Central Co-op also installed educational markers on various pollinator dependent items in the grocery store and hosted a screening of The Guardians when a butterfly expert talked about the difference between the monarchs in the movie and the monarchs on the west coast, as well as how the two groups interact.
At the “Meet the Bees” party, The Common Acre celebrated the release of the first EVER Field Guide to Bees of Puget Sound. Along with live music, actors portraying bees, and tasty treats, key scientists involved with the guide made presentations. The Common Acre joined forces with the Tilth Alliance to offer multiple opportunities to participate in a field day and work parties in local parks, farms, and pollinator patches, as well as workshops on pollinator friendly gardening. Community members learned how to make insect hotels, planted native plants, and met with Washington State University (WSU) researchers and other pollinator experts to learn about tools for identifying, conserving, and promoting wild pollinators. The Garden Hotline worked on the pollinator garden for the Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands, featuring useful weeds, medicinal, native, and ornamental plants, all of which are great for a variety of pollinators. Based on WSU research. special focus was given to selection of plants, and the bee species present and how to provide for them.
Midweek, a Save Pollinators Symposium featured lightning talks from diverse perspectives including the Washington state Poet Laureate, urban farmers, educators and others.
University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL
UCF hosted a tour of their pollinator garden followed by a bee condo making workshop. Attendees left with their own bee condos and pamphlets to enable them to identify local pollinators and flowers in the future.
Durham, NC, launched National Pollinator Week with the Bee Bash at The Durham Hotel to educate about pollinators, habitat, bees, bee products and honey! Bee Downtown started the Bee Bash three years ago. Exhibitors were Keep Durham Beautiful, Durham Bee City USA, Honeygirl Meadery, Durham County Beekeepers Association, The Durham Originals and Granville County Beekeepers. Among Durham's many Pollinator Week events were the Burt’s Bees Cabin tours, Pollinator Day at the Museum of Life and Science, and the Bee Jubilee in Granville County.
All butterflies make the stunning transition from determined caterpillar to striking adult. But the eastern monarch's epic migration from Canada to Mexico’s high elevation fir forests piques our collective imaginations, reminding us of nature’s brilliant complexity and capacity to innovate. The notion of a small butterfly, weighing only a half gram, riding air currents as much as 11,000 feet in the air, and somehow locating relatively small, high-elevation forests 3,000 miles away, is very empowering. It makes us feel almost anything is possible—even reversing global pollinator declines.
The monarch butterfly symbolizes both change and hope. Bee City USA was much like that small butterfly traveling to parts unknown back in 2012, but the program has seen astounding and determined growth over a relatively short period of time. Today, there are 115 certified city and campus affiliates across the nation. Now Bee City/Campus USA is joining forces with the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, the largest pollinator protection organization in the world! As of June 30, 2018, Bee City USA will formally become an initiative of Xerces, leveraging Xerces’ 46-year history in support of Bee City USA’s continued growth.
What does this mean for Bee City/Campus USA affiliates?
With Bee City USA as part of the Xerces Society’s programs, there will be benefits for both organizations—and for pollinators and their advocates. Currently Xerces has more than 20 staff in their Portland headquarters and almost 30 staff in regional offices across the country. To ensure this change is smooth, Bee City USA founder Phyllis Stiles is joining the Xerces Society staff as Bee City USA Pollinator Champion with the goal of fully transitioning management of the Bee City/Campus USA programs over to other Xerces staff during the next couple of years. She will continue to work from her office in Asheville, North Carolina.
In the future, instead of relying solely on the generosity of passionate, capable volunteers, Bee City USA will be managed by Xerces’ capable, committed staff, however, Bee City USA’s Internet address is still www.beecityusa.org.
From its launch in 2012, Bee City USA’s strategic plan was to someday be adopted by an established pollinator conservation organization. The Xerces Society was at the top of a short list of prospects. Xerces’ work is based on the latest science and is increasingly recognized as the worldwide standard for pollinator conservation. In the last decade, Xerces’ efforts have culminated in the restoration or protection of pollinator habitat on 692,000 acres of U.S. farmland, with thousands more acres in development. Xerces has also directly reached more than 100,000 people through workshops, farm field days, conferences, invited talks, and short courses on pollinator conservation and other beneficial insects in all 50 states. Xerces offers a growing number of workshops and other events, continues to expand their library of fact sheets and guidelines, hosts citizen science projects like Bumble Bee Watch, and certifies pollinator-conscious agricultural operations through their Bee Better Certified program.
This transition felt very natural to both parties because Bee City USA and the Xerces Society have partnered for many years. Indeed, Xerces’ senior pollinator conservation specialist for the Southeastern region, Nancy Lee Adamson was Bee City USA’s informal, and later formal, science advisor, and Mace Vaughan, co-director of Xerces’ pollinator conservation program, has advised Bee City USA for years. Bee City USA hosted a Xerces short course in 2014 and Bee City USA affiliates have been drawing on Xerces materials to inform their activities.
This next step will further solidify an already strong, complementary relationship. While Xerces may be best known for its work with farmers, government agencies, and public land managers, urban areas are increasingly a focus for Xerces. Bee City USA’s programming meshes quite naturally with this new priority area.
A Bright Future
Bee City USA and Bee Campus USA affiliates are amassing a distinguished record of pollinator conservation achievements. Driven by a grassroots desire to engage friends and neighbors to organize events and make pollinator habitat improvements, they are changing their communities’ landscaping paradigms where they live, work, learn and recreate. With affiliates’ demonstrated commitment to pollinator conservation, it’s no wonder the Xerces Society was attracted to Bee City USA. Bee City USA and the Xerces Society can build on the considerable interest in pollinator conservation from cities, colleges and universities, corporate campuses, schools, and other similar groups, to achieve more than either group could alone.
Xerces BLOG: Xerces Society + Bee City USA = A Match Made in Pollinator Heaven
Scott Hoffman discusses the benefits that will accrue to both Xerces and Bee City from this change—and how pollinator conservation can strengthen communities.
PRESS RELEASE: Bee City USA joins forces with the Xerces Society
Making Your Campus A Bee Campus USA Affiliate Webinar June 20
The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) is hosting a free webinar entitled "Making Your Campus A Bee Campus USA Affiliate" on June 20 at 3:00-4:30 Eastern Standard Time.
Here's the webinar description: "While we need pollinators for the reproduction of 90% of the world's wild plant species and three-quarters of crops, announcements of their national and global staggering declines seem relentless. College campuses can help! They can serve not only as models for pollinator-friendly landscaping practices, but also education and outreach centers for changing our landscaping paradigms. This webinar will explain the application process for becoming a Bee Campus USA affiliate and the commitments entailed. Examples of how current affiliates are fulfilling their commitments will be featured." Register for the webinar here.
From left to right, the presenters are Elaine Cole, PhD, Portland Community College-Rock Creek, Sustainability Coordinator; Jackie Hamstead, Bee Campus USA-University of North Carolina Asheville, Environmental Specialist; Emily O'Hara, University of Connecticut-Storrs, UConnPIRG Secretary and Save the Bees Campaign Coordinator; and Phyllis Stiles, Executive Director of Bee City USA.
Bee City USA also hosts its own occasional webinars, some of which are available here. Here is a current list of all Bee Campus USA affiliates.
Monarch Joint Venture Webinars
Other Notable Webinar Series
"The Guardians" documentary about the precarious state of monarchs' overwintering habitat in Mexico to release during National Pollinator Week
Many affiliates have hosted screenings of awe-inspiring, and sometimes disturbing, films like Wings of Life; Flight of the Butterflies; A Ghost in the Making: Searching for the Rusty-Patched Bumble Bee; Queen of the Sun; Hometown Habitat, Stories of Bringing Nature Home; Vanishing of the Bees; and Bee Movie.
Now, there is a new, quieter film, about the challenges of preserving the monarchs' overwintering sanctuaries while sustaining human communities. Monarch ecologist Dr. Lincoln Brower calls it "an eye-opener for conservation advocates."
The producers are releasing this documentary, The Guardians, this summer in honor of National Pollinator Week.
Bee City USA has partnered with the filmmakers on their national screening tour. They are offering our Bee Cities and Campuses a 30% discount on the screening kit, which includes everything you need to a host a successful screening event centered on pollinator conservation--a license to screen the film, printed posters and postcards, a DVD & digital file of the film, discussion guide and digital promotional materials.with an exciting new documentary film.
We think the film is a powerful tool for Bee City/Campus USA affiliates to engage their communities in discussion about pollinator conservation. Already, Bee Campuses and Cities in Washington, New Mexico, Ohio, Missouri, Georgia, North Carolina, Oregon and New Jersey have lined up to host screenings. Because the film is in Spanish with English subtitles, it offers a rare opportunity to engage local Latino communities in conversation about pollinator conservation.
To see a private screener of the film to inform your decision or if you just have questions, please email the film's director at firstname.lastname@example.org.
While Bee City USA and Bee Campus USA affiliates can (and do) host pollinator conservation awareness events throughout the year, many choose to take advantage of National Pollinator Week, June 18-24 (this year's third full week in June).
Across America, affiliates are asking their city councils to make proclamations for National Pollinator Week as well as hosting educational garden walks, inspiring and informative movies, expert presentations, habitat enhancement events, or scavenger hunts at farmers markets to link pollinators to our diets.
Consider registering your event(s) on the Pollinator Partnership's National Pollinator Week calendar here.
You can get full instructions and supplies for leading a scavenger hunt at your local farmers market from a previous Bee City USA E-News here.
Need attractive educational resources for your pollinator awareness activities? In partnership with the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign (NAPPC), NRCS (the Natural Resources Conservation Service) will ship up to 5 free (no shipping costs either) gorgeous Pollinator Week posters. This year's theme is Pollinators and Seeds. Order your 18" x 36" posters here. Past posters are available here (use "pollinator" as the keyword). Some may be downloaded as PDFs, while other hard copies can be ordered FREE OF CHARGE. For example, the fabulous “Trees for Bees” poster, one of the series the Pollinator Partnership produces each year, is available in boxes of 10. We laminate our posters and bring them to our events.
By Phyllis Stiles,
Director, Bee City USA
Thanks to volunteer Scott Offord at beepods, Bee City USA realized a longstanding dream this year. When cities/counties and institutions of higher education become certified as Bee City USA or Bee Campus USA affiliates, one of the commitments they make is to provide an annual report that is published each January summarizing their previous year’s accomplishments in pollinator conservation and awareness.
We had always wanted Bee City USA and Bee Campus USA affiliates to know about the innovative work their counterparts were doing. While at Bee City USA headquarters we hear incredible stories of winning new friends for pollinators and enhancing habitat for pollinators from our affiliates on a daily basis, there is simply no way we can communicate the ingenuity and joy expressed in each of those stories. We've always known the affiliates need to be able to tell their own stories. But how?
Experienced webmaster Scott Offord had the answer. He created a website just for annual reports, with a template page dedicated to each affiliate's story. Simple! The affiliates just place their text and photos into the "slots" provided, and Voila!, they communicate their year of achievements on a single webpage, available 24/7 around the world, complete with contact information if the reader wants to get in touch directly with the affiliate for more information. How empowering!
While city and college staff lead or support many of these efforts, passionate volunteers are at the forefront of most. These reports are bursting with inspiring stories of communities planting pesticide-free habitat rich in a diversity of locally native plants, discussing their community’s pest management policies with pollinators in mind, and hosting events for young and old to create awe for and greater understanding of the plant-pollinator collaboration that makes our planet bloom and fruit.
These reports inspire our national network of Bee City USA and Bee Campus USA affiliates with new, more efficient, more cost effective, more creative, or generally more impactful approaches. Thanks to Scott Offord for making our dream a reality!
Header photo by: Nancy Lee Adamson
These are the opinions and events of interest to the Bee City USA director and board.