Bee City USA®, a national nonprofit organization founded in 2012 to make America’s landscaping paradigm more PC (“pollinator conscious”), has reached a major milestone. They have just certified their 100th affiliate--Salisbury, Maryland!
At the highest levels, certified cities and institutions of higher education have committed to reviewing their landscape design and maintenance plans with pollinators in mind. But their commitment extends well beyond simply reviewing those plans.
Whether a Bee City USA or a Bee Campus USA affiliate, they have agreed to develop and publish a recommended species list of plants, trees and shrubs that are locally native species, rather than the exotic plants that tend to dominate American landscapes. They also have agreed to develop and publish a least toxic Integrated Pest Management plan that instructs city and campus landscaping maintenance staff to seek biological controls for managing pests, using chemical inputs only as a last resort. According to Bee City USA founder and director, Phyllis Stiles, “The goal is to allow nature to find balance between predatory and prey insects. While dogs don’t eat dogs, bugs do eat bugs when given the chance!”
These plant lists and pest management plans should be integrated into certified city and campus comprehensive plans, in order to become policy. The goal is for the cities and campuses to provide demonstration sites of pollinator-friendly landscaping for their communities, to inspire the public at large to adopt these same landscaping principles, all directed at reversing national and global pollinator declines.
Salisbury, Maryland, Mayor Jacob Day, said, “We feel like we’ve won the lottery! Not only are we excited to embark on this new campaign to welcome vital pollinators to Salisbury, we were lucky enough to be the 100th affiliate to be certified. We’re really buzzing now!”
Each affiliate is required to have a committee, endorsed by the city or campus leadership, to serve as pollinator advocates. Ann Barklow, Horticulturist and GreenHouse Grower for the City of Greenwood, and chair of Greenwood, South Carolina’s committee, said, “Bee City USA certification has given us a structure for organizing a broad cross-section of community members, educators, and businesses interested in supporting pollinator conservation. The Bee City USA designation has lit Greenwood on fire about pollinators. I’ve never see the community embrace a program as warmly as this.”
Danielle Trevino, Environmental Protection Specialist at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, said, “We were the first military installation to become a Bee City USA affiliate. We are especially proud of our 100-acre restored prairie, teeming with native wildflowers and their pollinators on the site where the Wright Brothers tested flight in 1904. We are hoping more military bases will apply for Bee City USA certification.”
Educational campus affiliates are required to incorporate pollinator conservation into their service-learning programs and curriculum, and place interpretive signs around their campus to explain the role pollinators play in sustaining life on Earth and providing some of the most nutritious foods in our diets.
Mike Oxendine, Landscape Supervisor at Southern Oregon University said, “We approached Bee City USA about launching a campus program in 2015 because there were several certified Bee City USA affiliates around us (Talent, Ashland and Phoenix). We recognized the urgency for pollinator conservation and the opportunity a Bee Campus USA program would offer for engaging not only thousands of college students, faculty, staff and administrators in pollinator conservation, but also visitors to our campuses. We are thrilled to have helped in designing the program and becoming the first certified Bee Campus USA affiliate in the nation.”
The program focuses on hope for our environment and respects and celebrates volunteers. That message resonates outside our borders. In 2016, Bee City USA helped to launch Bee City Canada! Shelly Candel, now director of Bee City Canada, happened to have a second home in Ashland, Oregon, where she met with local pollinator conservation leaders in a tea shop to talk about Bee City USA. She learned how the program worked from Dolly Warden, chair of Talent's Bee City committee and Kristina Lefever, chair of Ashland's Bee City committee.
Talent was the second city after Asheville, North Carolina, to be certified in the nation. "Shelly was so fascinated by what we were doing in Oregon that she contacted Bee City USA headquarters and got busy introducing the program in Toronto, which happened to be her home and Canada's largest city," said Dolly.
In Cortland, New York, SUNY-Cortland has held numerous awareness events since the campus was certified in 2016. Said Bee Campus USA committee member Jeremy Zhe-Heimerman, Assistant Director of Disability Resources Office, “SUNY Cortland has held several events to educate the campus and the larger community about pollinator health and habitat. These events have included a native plant fair, a workshop on caterpillar gardening, a lecture on the use of native plants on a college campus, a talk on milkweed pollination, and several events highlighting our model urban garden, which includes many native perennials in addition to annual vegetables.”
Inspiring annual reports for 2017 from certified cities and campuses are available here.
To apply for certification, visit Bee City USA's application webpage or Bee Campus USA's application webpage.
Header photo by: Nancy Lee Adamson
These are the opinions and events of interest to the Bee City USA coordinator and Xerces Society.