Decatur, GA Concludes Another Year of Pollinator Conservation

Guest Blog by Peter Helfrich, Committee Chair Bee City USA – Decatur, GA
Urban environments like Decatur provide critical habitat for pollinators. In 2019, Bee City USA® – Decatur, GA (affectionately known as “Beecatur”) spearheaded a number of new programs and events designed to educate city residents about the importance of bees and other beneficial insect species, and to demonstrate how Decaturites can play an active role in protecting them. ​
EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMMING IN CITY SCHOOLS
At the heart of Beecatur’s ongoing educational initiatives is programming related to bees and other pollinators presented to school-aged children, with events almost every month. In March, we produced a program called “What If There Were No Pollinators?” for second graders at Oakhurst Elementary. In April, at Renfroe Middle School’s 7th Grade Spring Science Day, our program “Collaboration Means Working Together” looked at how honey bees maximize their abilities through teamwork. In May, we visited Westchester Elementary twice, talking about “Pollinator Power!” with the Kindergarten and 1st grade classes. In August, “The Importance of Bees to our Ecosystem” was the topic discussed with 4th graders at F.Ave. In October, we spoke with F.Ave’s Lego Robotics Team to help them develop a team project related to bees and focused on creating more sustainable cities in the future. Wrapping up the year, in November, we returned to Renfroe Middle School and gave a superhero-themed talk, “Marvel-ous Bees: Superheroes of the Natural World”, to the 7th graders during Fall Science Day and shared “The Importance of Bees to our Ecosystem” with 2nd graders at Glenwood Elementary School.
ADDITIONAL EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMMING
Other programming presented to groups in and around Decatur during 2019 included:
• “Bee-Yond Honey Bees: Meet Your Native Bees,” at Avon Garden Club (Avondale, GA)
• “3 Spring Bees” at Little Forest Pre-School (Decatur, GA)
• “Pollinator Power!” at The Museum School, 6th Grade Environmental Education class (Avondale)
• “Pollinator Power!” at Oak Grove Elementary, pre-K classes (DeKalb County)
• “Bee-Yond Honey Bees: Meet Your Native Bees” at Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, Dekalb County Women Educators’ Honor Society
ONGOING POLLINATOR HABITAT DEVELOPMENT
The city’s first pollinator habitat (115 Willow Lane) has continued to flourish. Multiple work days were held at the site during 2019, including installation of new native plants purchased with funds from our Gifts That Grow donation program. A monthly “Wine & Weeding” program was begun to encourage volunteer participation in maintenance chores. A Decatur resident built a beautiful arbor entrance as well. In April, Beecatur broke ground on a second habitat site, installing 60 native, flowering plants at 811 Bell Street near the entrance to historic Decatur Cemetery.
POLICIES AND PRACTICES
​Backyard mosquito spraying by residents is a particular concern in Decatur. To deter this practice, we suggest residents implement a number of IPM practices first, including personal protection (including use of skin-base repellents, long sleeves/pants, air circulation, and avoiding outside activities during peak mosquito hours) and making practical changes to their gardens like removing sources of standing water and clearing overgrown invasives that harbor mosquitoes. We also stress the use of targeted, biological control methods like BTi (larvicide). In 2019, we put together an official position paper opposing backyard mosquito spraying that we presented to the Decatur City Commission and the city’s Environmental Sustainability Board. This information was further conveyed to the public by a number of means including social media; our email newsletter; distribution of flyers and other literature; and television, radio, and newspaper interviews.
Learn more about Decatur’s 2019 Pollinator Conservation activities by reading their renewal report or visiting their website!

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