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
Bee City USA® Calls for Conversations Between Local Government Agencies and Beekeeping Chapters on Mosquito Abatement Plans
Tragically, millions of honey bees in Summerville, South Carolina, were found dead after Dorchester County ordered aerial spraying for mosquitoes between 6:30 and 8:30 last Sunday morning. The pesticide was the organophosphate Naled, used for mosquito abatement since the 1950s. Facing elevated losses and causing concern at the highest levels of government, honeybees and other pollinators are responsible for the reproduction of more than three-quarters of the world’s plant species and are vital to food security.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “Spraying Naled can kill bees outside of their hives at the time of spraying; therefore, spraying is limited to dawn or dusk when bees are inside their hives. Because Naled breaks down quickly, it does not pose a risk to the honey bee populations…. For additional protection, urban beekeepers inside the spray zone can cover their hives when spraying occurs.” However, Dorchester County failed to directly notify beekeepers of plans to spray.
Bee City USA®, a national organization that galvanizes communities to sustain pollinators by providing them with healthy habitat, rich in a variety of native plants and free to nearly free of pesticides, encourages mosquito abatement districts across the country to provide beekeepers with ample notice of planned spraying so they can protect their hives as much as possible by covering them or moving them to a non-spray zone. By the same token, we encourage beekeeping chapters to meet with county officials in charge of vector control as soon as possible and each year to discuss mosquito control plans that protect pollinator health, and in the event of bee kills, how beekeepers will be compensated.
The mounds of dead bees near their hives in Summerville had beekeepers who were checking on them, but what about the other millions of wild non-honey bees living solitary lives with no keepers? Unlike honey bees, they are active early in the morning precisely when spraying is recommended “while pollinators are least active.” And what about the millions of moths, most of which are active at night when spraying is recommended?
Ironically, according to Zika Virus Net, the mosquitoes that may carry the Zika virus (Aedes aegypti) are a day-biting mosquito, most active during daylight, for approximately two hours before sunrise and several hours before sunset.” Furthermore, it “rests indoors, in closets and other dark spaces. Outside, they rest where it is cool and shaded. Unlike mosquitoes that breed in standing temporary pools of water, Aedes aegypti is adapted to breed around human dwellings and prefers to lay its eggs in clean water which contains no other living species.” Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, unless they are carried by the wind, mosquitoes generally are not strong fliers and generally do not travel more than a few hundred feet from where they pupated to become adults. Even though the CDC and researchers say larvicide is the most effective mosquito abatement strategy, communities continue using aerial sprays like Naled to target flying adult mosquitoes rather than their larvae.
In light of the fact that the scientific community is just now learning about this mosquito’s biology and behavior, we encourage much more public education, prevention efforts, and larval control before mounting widespread ground or aerial spraying campaigns. Indeed, according to Dr. David Pimentel, former professor of entomology at Cornell University, such spraying delivers less than 0.0001% of the insecticide to the target mosquitoes, and instead, releases 99.999% into the environment generally, threatening public health and potentially causing other environmental problems.
The professionals responsible for public safety bear a very heavy burden. Mosquito-borne viruses like Zika, West Nile, Dengue and Chikungunya are threats to human health. While West Nile virus has spread across the United States and Canada and numerous cases of Chikungunya have been acquired in Florida and Texas, to date there have been no reported cases of Dengue contracted in the continental United States and, so far, the CDC has only reported cases of locally-acquired Zika in Miami, Florida.
Unfortunately, according to Beyond Pesticides, “The more insecticides are relied upon to control mosquito populations, the quicker mosquitoes develop resistance to the insecticides.” That being said, Bee City USA is happy that in addition to the CDC’s advice about killing mosquitoes with insecticides, the CDC goes to great lengths to advise people to take precautions to prevent mosquito bites with the help of protective clothing, window and door screens, and repellents.
Experts generally agree that aerial spraying is at best only a temporary measure, which will not eliminate the problem. Moreover, aerial spraying may kill natural mosquito predators like dragonflies and damselflies, in addition to countless species of beneficial insects, including pollinators. Beyond Pesticides recommends, “To combat mosquito resistance, the dependency on chemical control must be addressed and lead to more sustainable methods, which include habitat modification, improved sanitation, and use of natural controls.”
For more information, see Beyond Pesticide’s article on Mosquito Control and Pollinator Health, and Mosquito Management and Insect-Borne Diseases webpage.
Bee City USA® is a nonprofit national organization that galvanizes communities to sustain pollinators, responsible for the reproduction of three-quarters of the world's plant species, by providing them with healthy habitat, rich in a variety of native plants and free to nearly free of pesticides. During the past few years, there have been calls to action both nationally and internationally to reverse pollinator declines. Both thinking globally and acting locally, Bee City USA offers a positive vision, which encourages individual efforts while facilitating creative, constructive community partnerships. Recognizing that we rely on pollinators (bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, flies, moths, beetles, etc.) for one in every three bites we eat, the program seeks to make the world safer for pollinators, one city at a time. Bee City USA launched in Asheville in June 2012. As of September 2016, we have certified 30 cities in 19 states as Bee City USA affiliates. In April 2015, we launched the companion program, Bee Campus USA for educational institutions and currently have certified 13 affiliates in 9 states. We helped Toronto launch Bee City Canada in spring 2016. Learn more at beecityusa.org.
Any unattributed opinions or positions are those of Bee City USA.
Header photo by: Nancy Lee Adamson
These are the opinions and events of interest to the Bee City USA director and board.