Bee City USA is an initiative managed by the Xerces Society to bring communities together to help sustain pollinators, in particular the more than 3,600 species of native bees in this country, by increasing the abundance of native plants, providing nest sites, and reducing the use of pesticides.
Conserve native pollinators by increasing the abundance of native plants, providing nesting sites, and reducing the use of pesticides
Create or enhance pollinator habitat on public and private land annually
Host one pollinator awareness or education event each year, focused on native pollinators and steps to conserve them
Create and adopt an integrated pest management plan (IPM), designed to prevent pest problems, reduce pesticide use, and expand the use of non-chemical pest management methods
Incorporate pollinator conscious practices into city policies and plans. Establish a policy in the City’s comprehensive plan to acknowledge and commit to the Bee City USA designation, as well as consider improvements to pest management policies and practices as they relate to pollinator conservation
The Buzz About Bees
Bees transfer pollen between flowers, enabling the incredible diversity of plants on our planet to flower and fruit. Pollinators are keystone species in essentially every ecosystem on earth, enabling the reproduction of over 85% of all flowering plants and 67% of agricultural crops. In addition to the well known honey bee, a species brought to the United States from Europe, there are more than 20,000 described species of bees globally, and around 3,600 species of bees native to the United States.
These wild bees are generally quite different than the domesticated honey bee – most of them live solitary lives, with a single female doing all of the work to build a nest, collect pollen and nectar, and lay eggs. Unlike the honey bee, which lives aboveground and can be managed in wooden hives, more than 2 out of 3 wild bees live underground in nests that can be hard to spot from the surface! Some dig down and lay their eggs several feet below ground, while others make nests near the soil surface or in hollowed out plant stems above ground. While bees are the most important pollinator, butterflies, moths, beetles, flies, wasps, and hummingbirds also contribute to pollination.
Up to 40% of pollinator species on earth are at risk of extinction in the coming years as a result of a variety of environmental stressors including habitat loss, exposure to pesticides, diseases and pathogens, and climate change. During the past few years, there have been calls to action both nationally and internationally to reverse pollinator declines.
Ways You Can Help The Cause
Working together we can stem the losses of the insects that take care of us, through taking care of the landscape in which they live, from our backyards to city parks and from farms to wildlands. Everyone can make a difference.
Reimagine your garden: increase the diversity of native plants, ensure that there are places for insects to nest. A backyard or even an apartment balcony with a variety of potted plants can be an important stopover for the smallest of animals upon which we all depend.
Curb Pesticide Use
Pesticides are part of the reason invertebrates are struggling. Avoid using insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides to reduce stress on already vulnerable bees, butterflies, and other insects, as well as the animals that eat these insects for food.
Engage Your Neighbors
Get out into your neighborhood and spread the word about this important movement. You can volunteer, become a community scientist, work with your local park or watershed group to protect and restore habitat —or simply talk to your neighbors.