Four adults in darker clothes stand in a row in from of flowers with trees and a playground in the background.

Bee City USA Visits Michigan Bee Cities

In September, I had the opportunity to visit seven Bee Cities and Bee Campuses in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula (as well as a few communities that are currently applying). A few weeks ago, I recapped my visit to several campuses: Michigan State University, Washtenaw Community College, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, University of Michigan-Dearborn, and Michigan State University-Detroit Extension Service’s Partnership for Food, Learning and Innovation (DPFLI). In this post, I share my visits to three of our Michigan Bee City USA affiliates: City of Ypsilanti, Ypsilanti Township, and Royal Oak.

In-person visits give us a chance to learn about our affiliates’ pollinator habitat, pesticide reduction, and outreach accomplishment—and it gives us a chance for us to provide new tools and resources to help our Bee Cities and Campuses accomplish their goals.

I’d like to extend a warm thank you to all the staff, volunteers, students, elected officials, and community leaders who took the time to meet and share their work. And an extra thank you to two Bee City applicant cities for meeting with me as well.  We look forward to welcoming you into the Bee City community soon.

Enjoy part two of the tour!

Laura Rost
National Coordinator
Bee City USA and Bee Campus USA

City of Ypsilanti

In the City of Ypsilanti, my coworker Stefanie Steele and I met up with the Elize Jekabson, Downtown Development Authority Coordinator and Bonnie Wessler, Director of the Department of Public Services with the City of Ypsilanti. They were kind enough to take us on a walking tour around the historic Depot Town district.

Three people sit at a picnic table outside looking at papers.
Credit: Laura Rost / Xerces Society

We saw pockets of habitat the community has planted to support pollinators.

We saw rain gardens along the main street.

A white, green and blue outdoor sign reads "Rain Garden"
Sign reads: “Rain Garden. Improving wildlife habitat and water quality in the Huron River one garden at a time.” Credit: Laura Rost / Xerces Society

And pollinator pathway tucked in an alley between a grocery store and a coffee shop.

An alley with a stepping stone path with mostly yellow flowers blooming.
Credit: Laura Rost / Xerces Society

Ypsi celebrated its Tenth Annual Festival of the Pollinator (formally Festival of the Honey Bee) just a couple of weeks before our visit, and people were still buzzing about its success. In addition to activities such as arts, crafts, and a pub tour, this year the festival presented the first “Rumble of the Bumble,” a wrestling showdown between bumble bees (represented by Bruce Buzzbee) and chemical pesticides (represented by Guy Phosate)!

A wrestler in a bee mask stands on the ropes of a wrestling ring.
Bruce Buzzbee prepares to defeat Guy Phosate at the Rumble of the Bumble. Credit: City of Ypsilanti

On our visit local businesses around town still had their pollinator-themed window displays up. I didn’t get any photos of the displays, but I did get one of a delightful mural:

A mural on a brick wall with a rainbow, cartoon bees, and colorful flowers.
Mural in Depot Town, City of Ypsilanti. Credit: Laura Rost
Ypsilanti Township

Just down the road, Stefanie and I visited another Bee City, the Township of Ypsilanti. We met with city staff to talk about the many different ways pollinator conservation can be integrated into city policies, and shared new Xerces Society publications.

Six smiling adults stand in a row outside of a red brick building.
Credit: Ypsilanti Township

We then toured three pollinator habitat plantings, including a large pollinator meadow across from city hall:

A meadow with white, yellow, and purple flowers.
Credit: Laura Rost / Xerces Society

A large community farm at Appleridge Park, featuring tall sunflowers, raised beds of bee-friendly herbs, and a large riparian area with plenty of native trees:

A green community farm with raised beds, yellow sunflowers, a tree and picnic tables.
Credit: Laura Rost / Xerces Society

And we rode a golf cart to a low-mow area at the Green Oaks Golf Course. We didn’t let the rain keep us down!

Two people in rain jackets smile while riding in a golf cart.
Credit: Stefanie Steele / Xerces Society

Stefanie and I ate lunch at Ford Lake Park and enjoyed seeing the cute bee stencils on the park’s waste bins.

A yellow trash can with a stencil of a black bee with a picnic table, trees and a lake in the background.
Credit: Laura Rost / Xerces Society
Royal Oak

For the third visit, I was solo. I met up with the Royal Oak Bee City team at Normandy Oaks Park, a former golf course that has been beautifully converted to a multi-use park with an extensive oak savanna.

A meadow with pink purple coneflowers, purple asters, and yellow coneflowers; with oak trees and houses in the background.
A meadow of late-season blooms: purple coneflowers, asters, and yellow coneflowers. Credit: Laura Rost / Xerces Society

When I arrived, landscape contractors were adding native plant-focused ground cover around the parking lot, featuring plenty of wild strawberries for the pollinators!

small black plastic plant pots rest on a mulched median in a parking lot.
Credit: Laura Rost / Xerces Society

We walked around and observed sleepy bumble bees slowly waking up from their goldenrod beds:

I saw beautiful natural management techniques: low-mow zones, meadows with logs for wildlife, and plenty of late season nectar resources for bees.

A meadow-y hill with a footpath and a sign reading "Normandy Oaks Park NO MOW Zone"
Sign reads “Normandy Oaks Park NO MOW Zone” Credit: Laura Rost / Xerces Society

I’ve certainly said it many times: interpretive signs are so effective. They help the kids and adults hone their observational skills and read the natural world better. Normandy Oaks Park had a variety of interpretive signs that were attractive and educational.

Interpretive sign with an illustration of a cutaway view of a bioswale and plants with deep roots, titled "Bioswales: Reducing Harmful Runoff Pollutants"
Interpretive sign reads: “Bioswales: Reducing Harmful Runoff Pollutants.” Credit: Laura Rost / Xerces Society

It was great to see how Royal Oak has integrated wildlife habitat into such a popular recreation area. There are bioswales, meadows, riparian habitat, and plenty of beautiful oak trees. Oaks are a very important resource for many native butterfly and moth species.

Four adults in darker clothes stand in a row in from of flowers with trees and a playground in the background.
Credit: Royal Oak

That wraps up my two-part report on the tour the Stefanie and I did of our Lower Michigan Bee Cities and Campuses. I know that I can’t get to visit you all, but I certainly look forward to future opportunities to meet people and directly see the amazing work you all do!

View Bee City USA Visits Michigan Bee Campuses

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