Written by Noor Alhomsi, Digital Management Coordinator for Keep Texas Beautiful
Bees are keystone species in essentially every ecosystem on earth, enabling the reproduction of over 85% of all flowering plants and 67% of agricultural crops. They transfer pollen between flowers, enabling the incredible diversity of plants on our planet to flower and fruit. In addition to the well-known honey bee, there are more than 20,000 described species of bees globally, and around 3,600 species of bees native to the United States.
These wild bees are generally quite different than the domesticated honey bee – most of them live solitary lives, with a single female doing all of the work to build a nest, collect pollen and nectar, and lay eggs. Unlike the honey bee, which lives aboveground and can be managed in wooden hives, more than 2 out of 3 wild bees live underground in nests that can be hard to spot from the surface!
Up to 40% of pollinator species on earth are at risk of extinction in the coming years as a result of a variety of environmental stressors including habitat loss, exposure to pesticides, diseases, and pathogens, and climate change. Bee City USA hopes to fight this.
The focus of Bee City USA is bees and primarily native species. Thinking globally and acting locally, Bee City USA provides a framework for communities to come together to conserve native pollinators by providing them with a healthy habitat that is rich in a variety of native plants, provides nest sites, and is protected from pesticides.
Bee City USA affiliates make commitments to conserve native pollinators, laid out in a resolution adopted by the local city council. City staff and community members work together to carry out these commitments and make their city a better place for pollinators.
Jessica Gilzow, City of Austin, will be giving an in-depth discussion at the Keep Texas Beautiful Conference on the importance of bees, what the Bee City USA program involves, and how to become a Bee City USA Affiliate on Wednesday, June 29th from 2:15 PM to 3:30 PM.