People in rain gear looking at pollinator habitat

Bee City USA visits Georgia, Part I: University of Georgia

As coordinator of Bee City USA and Bee Campus USA, I had the privilege of visiting some of our affiliate cities and campuses in northern Georgia last month. I will be sharing highlights of the trip over the next few blog posts.

University of Georgia

My first affiliate visit was to University of Georgia (UGA) in Athens for the Protecting Pollinators in Urban Landscapes conference. Tyra G Byers, Director of the Interdisciplinary Sustainability Certificate at UGA; Peter Helfrich, Chairperson Decatur’s Bee City committee (aka Beecatur); and I were invited to hold a session, “Bee City USA and Bee Campus USA: Mobilizing Communities to Protect Pollinators.” We had a great time workshopping ideas for pollinator habitat, community engagement and pesticide reduction.

After the conference, Tyra was kind enough to lead attendees on a tour of some of the pollinator habitat around UGA.

First, we stopped by the Snelling Dining Hall to check out their pollinator education campaign, highlighting the importance of pollinators to food production.

White, yellow and black banner reads: "UGA Dining Halls Are Buzzing"

Vegetables in metal cafeteria trays with 2 stickers on glass guard saying "This item brought to you by a pollinator

Black and yellow table tents with text about pollinator conservation

We visited the UGA Trial Gardens (which I visited twice more!) – and saw plenty of carpenter bees, wasps, butterflies, and this beautiful sphinx moth – note the pine straw which acts as a mulch, which can help retain water and suppress weeds.

People in rain gear look towards a green garden

Large yellow and brown moth hovers over a pink flower

UGA Test Garden pathway with raised beds and planters with blue sky

Large, shiny black and yellow carpenter bee on purple flowers

LOTS of buzzing carpenter bees.

Wasp on a yellow and white daisy

My favorite spot was the Green Roof Garden on top of the Geography-Geology building, which includes raised vegetable beds and pollinator habitat. We saw a swirl of monarch butterflies overhead.

People in rain gear looking at pollinator habitat

There were some great examples of leaving the leaves at the ceramics building.

Green-yellow abstract sculpture with yellow and brown leaves

Cues to Care

One tool that came up repeatedly over the course of the conference was “cues to care” (a term from landscape architect Joan Nassauer). Native pollinator habitat can look a little messier than a lawn, especially if you are leaving the leaves and saving the stems. Some people may see this as a neglected landscape and may feel it does not meet cultural expectations of how a yard or park should look.

Cues to care such as hardscaping, maintaining a mowed buffer around walkways, raised beds, adding signage, etc. can help people understand that a landscape is cared for and intentional. And it can be educational and community-building. I think this is something we can all keep in mind as we look towards our work in 2023.

Stay tuned for Part Two: our visit to Norcross, Georgia.


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