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Celebrating a Year of Enacting Positive Change: Bee City USA & Bee Campus USA

By Molly Martin on 15 June 2020
Molly Martin

National Pollinator Week offers an opportunity to celebrate the importance of bees, butterflies, moths, flies, beetles, and the many other critters that contribute to pollinating the world’s incredible diversity of flowering plants. It is also a time to celebrate the individuals and communities across the country who are taking steps to conserve our essential, and increasingly declining pollinators. I want to take a moment to thank the people that make up the affiliates of Bee City USA and Bee Campus USA for the amazing work they did during the last year.

Bee City USA works with towns and cities to bring people together to help pollinators. Affiliates commit to conserve native pollinators by creating and enhancing habitat, reducing pesticide use, and spreading awareness. Bee City’s sister initiative, Bee Campus USA, supports pollinator conservation on college and university campuses. These are truly collaborative community efforts, requiring the involvement of everyone from city managers and landscaping staff to backyard gardeners, professors, and students. There is room for everyone at the table to work toward positive change in their community. To learn more about program commitments, read our recent blog or visit the Bee City USA website.

 

A group of three college students with clipboards watch carefully for bees beside a flower-rich garden.

Students at the University of Vermont monitor pollinators for a biology course in one of the campus’ many pollinator gardens. (Photo: Mark Starrett, University of Vermont.)

 

As we enter Pollinator Week, a network of more than 200 communities committed to supporting pollinators stretches from coast-to-coast, encompassing 109 cities and 102 campuses in 42 states. The program is growing significantly, with 28 campuses and 23 cities joining during the last year, and many more communities currently applying. At the end of each year, we ask that affiliates update us on their conservation work as part of the annual renewal—and what these reports reveal is remarkable.

The amount of effort Bee City USA and Bee Campus USA affiliates dedicated to protecting pollinators in their communities in 2019 was incredibly impressive, and truly inspiring. Affiliates not only created and enhanced habitats, reduced pesticide use, and hosted education and awareness events, but they approached these activities with creativity, enthusiasm, and candor.

Conservation by the Numbers

  • A total of 829,867 people were engaged in pollinator conservation in 2019 as a result of Bee City USA and Bee Campus USA affiliates. This included individuals who attended events, habitat project volunteers, participants in for-credit and continuing education courses, and those involved in service-learning projects.
  • A total of 876 habitat projects were completed, totaling 94,426,121 square feet (more than 2,160 acres).
  • A wide range of integrated pest management practices were implemented. Some affiliates found ways to reduce their reliance on pesticides while others eliminated pesticide use altogether.

 

BCU_Volunteers gather for a photo after a day of planting pollinator habitat in Wilsonville, Oregon.The power of community: Volunteers gather for a photo after a day of planting pollinator habitat in Wilsonville, Oregon. (Photo: Kerry Rappold, City of Wilsonville.)

 

Having started as the Bee City USA Coordinator in September of 2019, this was my first experience overseeing the renewal process and I found it eye opening. For the first time I fully realized the extent to which Bee City USA and Bee Campus USA foster mutualistic positive outcomes. In a world of rising sea levels, unprecedented habitat loss, and overwhelming species declines, these programs provide communities a tangible way to enact change. While focused on supporting pollinator communities, human communities are simultaneously strengthened.

This Pollinator Week, I hope you will gain inspiration from these communities and consider incorporating practices that support pollinators throughout the entire year. Whether by planting native flowering species, reducing the frequency at which you mow your lawn, or opting for hand weeding rather than spraying herbicides, you can help support native pollinator species and join a national network of like-minded people.

 

Conservation by the Numbers

A total of 829,867 people were engaged in pollinator conservation in 2019 as a result of Bee City USA and Bee Campus USA affiliates. This included individuals who attended events, habitat project volunteers, participants in for-credit and continuing education courses, and those involved in service-learning projects.

 

A total of 876 habitat projects were completed, totaling 94,426,121 square feet (more than 2,160 acres).

[Note: The percentages will add up to more than 100% because they indicate the percent of all habitat creation efforts that type constituted, not the percent of affiliates who created that type of habitat. When filling out the survey affiliates can select all habitat types that apply.]

 

A wide range of integrated pest management practices were implemented. Some affiliates found ways to reduce their reliance on pesticides while others eliminated pesticide use altogether.

 

 

Further Reading

Read more about the specific ways that each renewing affiliate engaged in pollinator conservation in 2019 in their renewal reports.

Gain a more in-depth understanding of the work that a few affiliates are doing through reading our monthly affiliate spotlights, available on the Bee City USA blog.

Read an overview of Bee City USA and Bee Campus USA and learn about the commitments.

 

Authors

Molly coordinates the Xerces Society’s Bee City USA and Bee Campus USA programs, initiatives of Xerces that support communities in their commitment to creating sustainable habitat for pollinators. Before joining the team at Xerces, Molly worked on a variety of projects across the western U.S., ranging from research to restoration, from environmental and outdoor education, to data analysis and visualization.

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