It’s official: SUNY Cortland is the place to bee. And no, that’s not a typo.
SUNY Cortland last week became the sixth college in the nation – and the only one in New York state – to be certified as pollinator-friendly under the national Bee Campus USA program.
To earn that certification, colleges must manage their campus environments with landscapes that encourage bee foraging and nesting and recognize the importance of pollination in sustaining agriculture and natural habitats.
“As a biologist, I couldn’t be prouder of SUNY Cortland’s new designation,” College President Erik J. Bitterbaum said. “Many of our students, faculty and staff already are working on pollinator health and sustainability issues. They will provide the type of solid leadership in pollinator conservation efforts one would expect of a Bee Campus.”
Roughly 85 percent of all flowering plants and trees, including two-thirds of the species that provide food, depend on pollinators for species survival. Bees, the most effective pollinators of all insects, face increasing pressures from pesticide, disease and habitat loss. All of the native bee species are declining in population, including the honeybee population, which is dropping by 30 percent or more each year.
That’s why the native plant environments maintained by the College in its “no-mow” zones, wildflower gardens and the rolling bio-swale that controls storm water in front of Bowers Hall are so important. The same is true of the more than 600 acres of undeveloped, natural space occupied by SUNY Cortland’s William H. Parks Family Center for Environmental and Outdoor Education. The W.H. Parks Family Outdoor Center includes the outdoor education facilities of Hoxie Gorge, Brauer Field Station and Camp Huntington/Antlers.
SUNY Cortland’s designation as a Bee Campus USA will be celebrated during two Green Days events, said Jeremy Zhe-Heimerman, the College’s coordinator of assistive technology and test administration services and chairman of its Garden Advisory Committee.
Green Days is a series of events related to sustainability that reaches its peak of activity every April. For more information, go tocortland.edu/greendays.
The first will be the slideshow discussion “Caterpillar Gardening: The Plants That Butterflies and Moths Need to Complete Their Life Cycles” by Colleen Wolpert of the Finger Lakes Native Plant Society. Wolpert will talk about the importance of protecting and encouraging these pollinators at 7 p.m., Tuesday, April 19, in Sperry Center, Room 204.
The second will be a sandwich seminar explaining the importance of the Bee Campus designation and what it means at SUNY Cortland. The presentation will be at noon on Wednesday, April 27, in Brockway Hall Jacobus Lounge.
“SUNY Cortland strives to be both a student and a teacher of sustainable practices,” Zhe-Heimerman said. “Our goal is to model pollinator-friendliness in our landscaping practices by incorporating as many locally native plants as possible, eliminating the use of invasive species, and creating Integrated Pest Management policies for our campus.”
No beekeeping is done on campus and none is planned. Bee Campus USA is recognizing work that the College has already been doing, so members of the campus community are unlikely to notice a change in bee population. Rather, the College will do all it can to ensure that the bees continue to thrive, largely unnoticed, on campus.