Laura Rost, Bee City USA and Bee Campus USA Coordinator, The Xerces Society, (503) 212-0894, firstname.lastname@example.org
Matthew Shepherd, Director of Outreach and Education, The Xerces Society, (503) 212-0802, email@example.com
PORTLAND, Ore.; September 15, 2022—It is no secret that pollinators like bees and butterflies have been facing numerous threats, including habitat loss and pesticide use. Yet for more than one million participants in the nationwide Bee City USA program have taken the pollinators’ plight as an opportunity to get to work.
From early beginnings with a single chapter in Asheville, North Carolina in 2012 led by founder Phyllis Stiles, the program has blossomed into more than 300 affiliate programs located across 45 states, presently managed by the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation since 2018.
In just the past three years, Bee City USA has engaged more than one million people in pollinator conservation and completed more than 2,566 habitat projects covering over 3,700 acres.
Cities and towns take the lead to protect pollinators
“When Master Gardener Barb Fenne came to us with the idea of partnering with the city by joining the Bee City USA network, it seemed like a good fit,” says Ray Hopper, founder of the Help Save the Bees Foundation based in Reno, Nevada.
Working closely with Reno parks management, the resolution passed unanimously to make Reno one of the newest Bee City USA affiliates. The city is planning a kickoff event this week to celebrate becoming the Biggest Little Bee City.
“Our hope is that our combined forces can be utilized to change the perception of Reno residents as to what an attractive yard looks like,” says Ray. “And that by utilizing native plantings, encouraging predatory insects, and using less chemicals, we can continue to grow in population while mitigating the impact in our city and on our planet.”
As new Bee City affiliates are making plans, established chapters are wrapping up a busy season of pollinator conservation projects.
In Ohio, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base staff and volunteers collected 17 pounds of native seeds from Huffman Prairie, redistributing them across 112 acres of natural areas to aid in the restoration and enhancement of this imperiled native habitat. They provide ongoing control of invasive species and maintain monarch butterfly waystations.
The Bee City USA committee in Talent, Oregon certified 13 new pollinator gardens, bringing the total in their small community to an impressive 73. The city of Madison, Wisconsin continued their efforts to convert roadway medians to either shortgrass prairie or to low-mow bee lawn.
In Gillette, Wyoming, participants run pollinator-friendly beautification projects, supplying approximately 1,000 flats of flowers to plant throughout the city with their Adopt-a-Planter volunteer program. The city recently added more than 150,000 sq. ft. of water-conserving turf, trees, and pollinator-friendly perennials.
Students give campus a pollinator-friendly makeover
It is not just cities working for pollinators. Nearly half of participating programs are run by students through Bee Campus USA.
More often than not, campus projects find ways to solve several problems at once. At Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), a 2000-ft-long bioswale was installed by the university’s grounds department. The long, channeled depression receives rainwater runoff and has vegetation such as pollinator-friendly asters and organic matter to prevent flooding and filter out pollutants.
Several states away, Bee Campus participants at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia planted a campus food forest – installing fruit trees, root crops, herbs, ground cover, and other pollinator plants – tackling student hunger side by side with more habitat for pollinators.
Thinking globally and acting locally, Bee City USA provides a framework for communities to come together to conserve native pollinators by providing them with healthy habitat that is rich in a variety of native plants, provides nest sites, and is protected from pesticides. Affiliates also do outreach projects within their communities to promote conservation.
To find a Bee City or Bee Campus program in your area, or to start your own, visit beecityusa.org.
For more information about Bee City USA and Bee Campus USA, visit www.beecityusa.org
For more information about the Xerces Society, visit xerces.org
For information about four simple ways to help pollinators, visit xerces.org/bringbackthepollinators