Across the country, individuals and communities are realizing how vital it is to sustain pollinators. In honor of the Winter Solstice, a time of reflection, we asked Bee City USA and Bee Campus USA affiliates for their favorite pollinator conservation highlight from 2018. Here are some of their responses.
Delta College, University Center, Michigan - Linda A. Petee, Sustainability & Risk Management Coordinator
"Delta College was honored to join Bee Campus USA this year as the first and only Michigan-certified campus! With the support of the campus community, our Pollinator Alliance Team designated a section of our natural area to develop as a bee habitat trail. We’re excited to plan plantings, interpretive signage, student club projects, community-learning activities, and tours."
Talent, Oregon - Dolly Warden, Chair, Bee City USA Talent Committee
"The most gratifying experience Bee City USA Talent had this year occurred on the 5th of December when the Talent City Council unanimously approved the proposed Integrated Pest Management Report and Recommendation. We first began working on the goal of an Integrated Pest Management Policy in March of 2014, so it has been almost five years. Although many people are responsible for the final outcome, it was Jim Thompson's persistence that saw it to the finish."
Garden City, Idaho - Judy Snow, Chair, Bee City USA - Garden City Committee
"The highlight of the year for me was visiting our pollinator garden and observing the hundreds (thousands?) of bees and other pollinators who showed up in only its second year. It was truly amazing to see the bees of all shapes and sizes, butterflies and hummingbirds visiting the flowers. We had leafcutter bees make their home in our bee boxes and observed solitary bee homes in the ground. It has proven to me that....If you build it, they will come!"
San Francisco, California - Peter Brastow, Senior Environmental Specialist, Nature, Ecosystems and Biodiversity, San Francisco Department of Environment
"In light of the ongoing insect apocalypse and the continuing racial and economic inequity in access to nature, we are working to meet both conservation and justice goals by piloting the installation of a local native plant landscape in a workforce development model at affordable housing sites in San Francisco."
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio - Danielle Trevino, Biological Scientist
"My most inspirational moment was from one of our smaller projects…a monarch waystation we planted with the children from the base youth center in the spring. The kids have taken such great care of it and now have a genuine interest the habitat and the many pollinators that call it home. It was such a small thing, but it is a reminder that big changes start with small steps."
Norcross, Georgia - Mike Brose, Sustainable Norcross Committee
"When I received the signed resolution, I was happy to know that the City of Norcross is now beehav’n!"
Carrboro, North Carolina - Laura Janway, Environmental Planner
"As a new member of Carrboro Town staff, I was excited to see the Town and community’s commitment to pollinators through current and future pollinator gardens, installations of native bee nesting boxes, and educational outreach. I am inspired by the dedication from Bee Cities across the country and hope to keep up the momentum in 2019."
Georgia Tech, Atlanta, Georgia - Jennifer Kraft Leavey, Ph.D., Principal Academic Professional, College of Sciences
"My favorite urban pollinator-related moment of the year was getting a call about a "swarm" of bees on an island of grass in the middle of a giant parking lot on the campus of Georgia Tech in downtown Atlanta. When I got there the island was covered in mining bee nests that look like little ant hills. Just above there were a cloud of these precious solitary bees working on creating the next generation of mining bees. By the next week you couldn't even tell they had been there."
Hillsborough , North Carolina - Stephanie Trueblood, Public Space Manager
"My favorite pollinator moment this year was the day when the swallowtail caterpillars showed up on our bronze fennel. I had heard from friends that they had arrived but our plants were empty. My kids and I checked our garden every day for more than a week and then SURPRISE, one morning we found 10 happy fat caterpillars munching away. We were thrilled.:)"
Orland, California - Pete Carr, City Manager
"Our OktoBEEfest drew 200 people and netted $5400 for the Bee city committee to spend on education and outreach. The Glenn County Fair 2018 theme was "What's all the Buzz about?" The city is purchasing real property as the future site of Honeybee Discovery Center."
Gonzaga University, Spokane, Washington - Chuck Faulkinberry, Director, Hemmingson Center, GUEST, Auxiliary Enterprises
"This fall we held our now annual harvest and wintering event. We brought in a hand cranked extractor and let each student take a turn that was in attendance. Much like when I was little when we made ice cream on my grandfather’s porch in the summer. Each student was eager to crank and felt some ownership in the extraction. It is a great way to get students involved and everyone walked away with a small honey bear for their efforts."
Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania - Cody Rosenbarker, Sustainability Learning Coordinator
"The Center for Sustainability Education hosted an event where students brought in our native bee homes for the winter. We found mason bees and leaf-cutter bees had used our homes as well as some that we couldn’t identify. Although it seems like the mason bees had already been parasitized, we’re looking forward to putting them all out in the spring and see what comes out to pollinate our gardens!"
Central Community College, Grand Island, Nebraska - Ben Newton, Environmental Sustainability Director
"Organizing our First Annual Pollinator Festival brought in a diverse mix of dedicated insect and native plant fans that I previously did not know existed! We even had a band that were also beekeepers playing at the festival while young children enjoyed honey ice cream. Our first full season of a new pollinator garden on campus was worth all the sweat and pain of pulling sand burrs by staff and students!"
Denton, Texas - Sarah Luxton, Sustainability Coordinator
"It’s exciting to see the younger generations get enthusiastic about pollinators and take action to support them in their community. These young beekeepers and gardens can be an inspiration to us all!
Phoenix, Oregon - Sharon Schmidt, Psy.D., Cascade Girl Organization
"We created a 2,000 square foot mural in Phoenix, Oregon over the course of 36 months. It is across from a popular fast-food restaurant and has little embedded signs that say 'grow organic'. Thousands of visitors look at it daily and it raises people’s awareness of Pollinators and organic produce (inner smile!)."
Albuquerque, New Mexico - Anita Amstutz, Think Like a Bee
"Poet Saeed Jones expressed it well for me, 'It's increasingly difficult for me to vibe with people—even keen, talented people—who are salty about everything all the time. Gotta have some sweetness in this life. I believe in the intelligence of honey.'"
Carson City, Nevada - Gillian Mellor, Chair, Bee City USA - Carson City Committee
"After many happy days collecting nectar and pollen, We have safely tucked our families in their hives for their well deserved rest. Greeting them again in the new year - we are able also to rest."
Pine Lake, Georgia - Elise Witt, Member, Bee City USA - Pine Lake Committee
"I loved having my song, “Bees Make Honey,” sung to celebrate our Bee City certification in Pine Lake!"
Photos: Nancy Lee Adamson/Xerces Society
Are you mesmerized by milkweed fluff? If so, you are not alone!
If you saved your fluff, you may want to have a holiday craft session to turn it into ornaments. Buy inexpensive clear glass Christmas balls from a craft store, and working inside a large paper bag, use your finger or a pencil to stuff a lot, or a little, fluff into the ball before capping it off with the hanger. (We suggest the bag because one friend discovered the cause of her printer problems was fluff that worked its way inside the rollers!)
True fluff ornament connoisseurs insert unopened fluff in the narrow glass ball opening, much like putting a collapsed miniature ship in a bottle, but without popping it open afterward. This showcases the fluff's elegant, silky growth pattern.
After the holidays, you may want to remove any seeds in the ornaments and plant them in time to sprout before the spring monarch migration.
By Justin Wheeler, The Xerces Society
Justin Wheeler previously worked for the Xerces Society managing websites and social media, and providing graphic design, writing, and content development. As a Penn State Extension Master Gardener, Justin is engaged with education and outreach to his community on a range of gardening-related subjects such as sustainable and pollinator-friendly gardening practices.
Besides providing the right plants, and protecting your garden from pesticides, one of the next most valuable things you can do to support pollinators and other invertebrates is to provide them with the winter cover they need in the form of fall leaves and standing dead plant material. Frequently however, this is the hardest pill for gardeners to swallow.
It may be habitual, a matter of social conditioning, or a holdover of outdated gardening practices from yesteryear—but for whatever reason, we just can’t seem to help ourselves from wanting to tidy up the garden at the end of the season—raking, mowing, and blowing away a bit of nature that is essential to the survival of moths, butterflies, snails, spiders, and dozens of arthropods. That’s why this year—and every year—we are making the case for leaving the leaves and offering input on what to do with them. Read on!
Must Love Leaves
While monarch migration is a well-known phenomenon, it’s not the norm when it comes to butterflies. In fact, the vast majority of butterflies and moths overwinter in the landscape as an egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, or adult. In all but the warmest climates, these butterflies use leaf litter for winter cover. Great spangled fritillary and woolly bear caterpillars tuck themselves into a pile of leaves for protection from cold weather and predators. Red-banded hairstreaks lay their eggs on fallen oak leaves, which become the first food of the caterpillars when they emerge. Luna moths and swallowtail butterflies disguise their cocoons and chrysalis as dried leaves, blending in with the “real” leaves. There are many such examples.
Beyond butterflies, bumble bees also rely on leaf litter for protection. At the end of summer, mated queen bumble bees burrow only an inch or two into the earth to hibernate for winter. An extra thick layer of leaves is welcome protection from the elements. There are so many animals that live in leaves: spiders, snails, worms, beetles, millipedes, mites, and more—that support the chipmunks, turtles, birds, and amphibians that rely on these insects for food.
It’s easy to see how important leaves really are to sustaining the natural web of life.
Leaves and Lawn
At the time of a 2005 NASA estimate, there were around 40 million acres of lawn in the continental United States—making turf grass the fourth largest “crop” we grow. This disproportionate ratio of lawn to garden is the main reason we rake, mow, and blow. To mimic the natural ecosystem an animal needs, a layer of leaves needs to be at least a couple of inches thick. While this would be too much of a good thing for turf grass to handle—research has shown that lawns actually benefit from a thin layer of leaves, and the rest can be piled up around ornamental trees, shrubs, and perennials to no ill effect.
If you must keep your lawn clear of leaves—try opting for raking or using a leaf vacuum to capture whole leaves, rather than shredding them with a mower and make a leaf pile in a corner of your yard. More on that below.
Better still would be to reduce your overall lawn footprint, replacing it instead with wildlife supporting plantings that can be future repositories for fall leaves.
To Shred or not to Shred?
Many organic gardeners opt for shredding their fall leaves for use in compost piles. While this is certainly a more environmentally friendly practice than bagging leaves and sending them to the landfill – shredded leaves will not provide the same cover as leaving them whole, and you may be destroying eggs, caterpillars, and chrysalis along with the leaves. We suggest that leaves in garden beds and lawn edges be left whole. Where space allows, consider creating a leaf pile and allowing it to break down naturally, or add the leaves gradually to your compost pile over time. Such efforts will keep critters safe and allow you to benefit from the rich garden gift that falls from the trees above.
Another reason to leave the leaves is for the many benefits they provide to your landscape. Leaves provide valuable organic matter and build up healthy soil. Fallen leaves have the same weed suppression and moisture retention properties of shredded wood mulch—and they’re free! Where mulch is desired as a decorative element, what could be more seasonally appropriate than a pile of brightly colored fall leaves?
In the past gardeners may have worried that fall leaves, matted down by snow or rain, would have a negative impact on their perennials. In reality, a thick layer of leaves provides additional insulation against bitter cold weather, and can protect newly planted perennials when frost-heave may expose tender roots. Anyone who has spotted fragile spring ephemerals popping up in the woods knows that all but the frailest of plants will burst through the leaf litter in spring without trouble.
The Bottom Line
You gave them flowers and a place to nest. You tended your garden and avoided pesticides. Don’t carry all of that hard work out to the curb. Simply put, when we treat leaves like trash—we’re tossing out the beautiful moths and butterflies that we’ll surely miss and work so very hard to attract.
While the idea is to “leave the leaves” permanently—for all of the benefits mentioned above—if you do decide you need to clean up the garden and remove the leaves in spring, make sure you wait until late in the season so as not to destroy all the life you’ve worked to protect.
Reposted with permission from the Xerces Society’s blog: https://xerces.org/2017/10/06/leave-the-leaves/
Hunter Welcome Center goes native to welcome butterflies and bees! Photos: Gayenell Rainwater
Many college landscape directors belong to the Professional Grounds Management Society. The Society's September/October newsletter, Grounds Management Forum, featured the article below. We hope the first few paragraphs will entice you to read this beautifully written story of one ground manager's and one campus' awakening to landscaping for pollinators.
WHAT BECOMING A BEE CAMPUS MEANS
by Gayenell Rainwater, Abilene Christian University
How many of you have ever heard of a Bee Campus? If you listen to the news at all, in the last few years you have no doubt heard about the decline in the monarch migration. You may have heard of Colony Collapse in honeybees? You may have heard about the fact that many species of bees are becoming extinct? All pollinators are facing global decline due to habitat loss, chemical exposure, or poor nutrition. We, as human beings, are causing this decline. You have the power to reverse this decline. Simple changes, in the way you landscape and what plants you choose can have a profound effect on not only pollinators, but on people.
How many of you have a pollinator garden on campus or choose native species for your landscaping? Then you too, can become an accredited Bee Campus. If I may, I would like to share our story…. While I would like to say that becoming a Bee Campus was intentional, and I would love to take the credit, saying it was my diligence and forward thinking, seeking to forge a name in sustainable environmental practices, I have to admit it was almost an accident. The opportunity came about due to other circumstances. First, I would like to talk about the monarch butterfly a little bit because this is what actually led to us becoming a Bee Campus. About 3 years ago, I heard a speaker at ULMA (the University Landscape Manager Association) meeting. Thea Junt, from University of Texas at Dallas, gave a talk on monarch way stations. She is a very motivating speaker, had great slides, and best of all showed a project that students would be interested in. I came back, very determined for Abilene Christian to have a monarch way station. It started out very simply. We chose Hunter Welcome Center because of its sprawling porch and the fact that we have many visitors here every year, we wanted it to be visible. We had a couple of small beds that had needed a makeover, due to the fact, that many of the plants chosen for that area were not suitable for our soils, climate, or effluent water.
. . .
The Professional Grounds Management Society will hold its annual conference October 16-19, 2018, and Mike Oxendine, former Landscape Supervisor for Southern Oregon University, will be there making a presentation about how SOU instigated the Bee Campus USA program in 2015.
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
Header photo by: Nancy Lee Adamson
These are the opinions and events of interest to the Bee City USA director and board.