Join Cities and Campuses Bringing Their Communities Together to Protect Pollinators

When people hear the word “bee” they often think of a single bee species, the European honey bee (Apis mellifera). However, the United States is also home to just over 3,600 native (wild) bee species such as bumble bees, leafcutter bees, sweat bees, mason bees, longhorn bees, and mining bees! Native pollinators are particularly important because they evolved alongside native plants and in many cases are the most effective pollinators — and in a few cases, the only pollinators. Pollinators are keystone species in essentially every terrestrial ecosystem on earth, assisting in plant reproduction and supporting other species of wildlife. Pollinators touch our lives in numerous ways each day, including being responsible for approximately one third of the food and drink we consume. The value of crop pollination has been estimated between $18 and $27 billion annually in the U.S.

Research has shown significant declines in native pollinator population sizes and ranges globally. In fact, up to 40% of pollinator species on earth may be at risk of extinction in the coming years as a result of habitat loss, the use of harmful pesticides, and climate change. 

Are you interested in working with your community to reverse these declines and support our (in)valuable pollinators? Thinking globally and acting locally, Bee City USA provides a framework for communities to come together to conserve native pollinators by providing them with healthy habitat that is rich in a variety of native plants, provides nest sites, and is protected from pesticides. 

As the name suggests, the focus of Bee City USA is bees, and primarily our native species. The steps that affiliates take to conserve our native bees, including creating safe habitats and hosting community events, will also help butterflies and moths as well as the nonnative honey bee. One of the most impactful actions any  affiliate can take is to encourage others to think beyond the honey bee and recognize the true diversity of bees that sustain our communities.  

Joining the cities and campuses across the country rallying to protect pollinators is a great way to bring your community together to create positive change!

Who Can Become an Affiliate of Bee City USA?

Cities and towns that are incorporated municipalities can work to reverse pollinator declines in their communities by becoming affiliates of Bee City USA. Bee City USA’s sister initiative, Bee Campus USA, works with institutions of higher education, including colleges and universities. See below for more details on each of these designations!

If you don’t fit into one of these categories but would like to commit to conserve native pollinators, the Xerces Society’s Bring Back the Pollinators campaign and its Pollinator Protection Pledge might be a good choice for you. Signing the pledge means making a commitment to growing pollinator-friendly flowers, providing nest sites, avoiding pesticides, and spreading the word. With these core values, pollinator conservation can be adapted to any location, whether you tend an urban community garden or a suburban yard, or work in a city park or on a farm.

Benefits to Your Community:

  • Ensure survival of vital animal species: Help to ensure the survival of vital animal species crucial to our planet’s functioning ecosystems. 
  • Build community locally and nationally: Bring your community together around a positive, shared cause and connect with communities across the country that have made the same commitment. 
  • Improve local food production: Raise community awareness of how our food grows and improve local food production through expanded pollination. 
  • Support small businesses: Support the growth of local businesses including native plant nurseries and pollinator-friendly landscaping.
  • Address pest problems with fewer pesticides: Raise community awareness of the least toxic ways to tackle home and garden pest problems. Mobilize your community to remove nonnative invasive plants to make way for locally native plants.
  • Heighten awareness of biological diversity: Raise community awareness of the local environment’s diversity of plant and pollinator species.
Bee City USA
So what does becoming a Bee City entail? The Bee City USA program endorses a set of commitments, defined in a resolution, for creating sustainable habitats for native pollinators. Incorporated cities, towns, and communities across the country are invited to make these commitments and become a Bee City USA affiliate.

Bee City USA Commitments:

  • Establish a standing Bee City USA committee to advocate for pollinators.
  • Create and enhance pollinator habitat on public and private land by increasing the abundance of native plants, ensuring nest sites, and reducing the use of pesticides.
  • Incorporate pollinator-conscious practices into city policies and plans.
  • Host pollinator awareness events.
  • Publicly acknowledge Bee City USA affiliation with signs and with an online presence.
  • Pay an initial application fee and then the annual renewal fee.
  • Annually apply for renewal and report on the previous year’s activities.

Bee City USA Application Process:

  1. Form a Bee City USA Committee. 
  2. Complete an online application. 
  3. Have your city council adopt the Bee City USA resolution (following our template) and receive the approval of the highest elected official. 
  4. Pay the application fee, which is scaled to your population.
Bee Campus USA
Structured similarly to Bee City USA, the Bee Campus USA program endorses a set of commitments, defined in an application, for creating sustainable habitats for pollinators. College students, faculty, administrators, and staff have long been among the nation’s most tenacious champions for sustainable environmental practices.

Bee Campus USA Commitments:

  • Establish a standing Bee Campus USA committee to advocate for pollinators.
  • Create and enhance pollinator habitat on campus through increasing the abundance of native plants, ensuring nest sites, and reducing the use of pesticides.
  • Offer courses or continuing education opportunities that incorporate pollinator conservation.
  • Offer service-learning projects to enhance pollinator habitat.
  • Display signage focused on pollinator conservation.
  • Maintain an online presence for your Bee Campus USA activities.
  • Pay an initial application fee and annual renewal fee.
  • Annually apply for renewal and report on the previous year’s activities.

Bee Campus USA Application Process: 

  1. Form a Bee Campus USA committee. 
  2. Complete an online application.
  3. Receive approval of your president or chancellor.
  4. Pay the application fee (scaled to student enrollment).
Thank you for your interest in engaging your community in conserving the many species of native pollinators that share our parks, neighborhoods, and backyards. Whether you encourage your city or campus to join Bee City USA, participate in the Bring Back the Pollinators campaign, or simply take small steps in your daily life to increase habitat, reduce pesticide use, or spread awareness, you are contributing to a global effort to protect pollinators.  

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