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.
Header photo by: Nancy Lee Adamson
These are the opinions and events of interest to the Bee City USA director and board.