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Burque Bee City USA

Albuquerque, the first Bee City USA in the Southwest

Think Like A Bee, with generous support of many sponsors, including NM Beekeepers Association, has worked closely with Albuquerque City Council to create a Bee City USA designation. Councilors Isaac Benton, who initiated the resolution, along with Brad Winter, co-sponsored the final resolution which unanimously passed at City Council in August, 2016.

What is a Bee City USA?

Bee City USA is a pollinator-friendly designation intended to improve local conditions for necessary beneficial insects. It fosters ongoing dialogue in urban areas to raise awareness of the role pollinators play in sustaining three-fourths of the world’s plant species and their crucial role in our food system. 

Bee City USA certification is both an honor and a responsibility. Launched in 2012, the Bee City USA program endorses a set of commitments, defined in a resolution, for creating sustainable habitats for pollinators, which are vital to feeding the planet. Cities, towns and communities across America are invited to make these commitments and become certified as a Bee City USA affiliate. This includes:

  • Creating healthy habitat corridors in public green spaces
  • Reducing or eliminating chemicals
  • Creating a Bee Day annually
  • Implementing Albuquerque, A Bee City signage
  • Ongoing education and advocacy about bees and all pollinators with civic, faith, schools, indigenous and neighborhood groups

Bee Cities are committed to educating the public and advocating for pollinators at all levels to ensure policies and practices that benefit pollinators.  Honeybees and native bees are especially important as the workhorses of our food system. Without bees, we cannot ensure a healthy food system for the future.

Where did Bee City USA Start?

When honey bee colonies started disappearing in what became known as “Colony Collapse Disorder” in 2006, beekeepers and non-beekeepers alike became concerned. After all, one in every three bites of food we eat is courtesy of insect pollination. Equally important, 85% of flowering plants and trees rely on pollinators for the survival of their species. While less is known about native bees and other pollinators, we do know that entire species are disappearing at alarming rates as they battle most of the same enemies as honey bees–loss of habitat essential for food and shelter, inappropriate pesticide use, diseases, and parasites.

Hoping to create a pollinator-friendly safety network across the nation, members of the Buncombe County Chapter of the NC State Beekeepers Association, including Phyllis Stiles, established Bee City USA. Asheville, North Carolina, became the first official Bee City in the United States; many more have joined the network since then, from large metropolitan areas like Seattle, Washington, to small towns like Ypsilanti, Michigan.

How You Can Protect Native and Honeybee Pollinators

Collaboration

The City of Albuquerque and Burque Bee City are working together to find alternative solutions to reduce chemicals sprayed in our public zones. The City continues to work towards an Integrated Pest Management System, paying attention to use of chemicals near beekeepers and important habitat. If you know you live in a "bee zone" and do not want the city to spray in your neighborhood, you may call 311 and ask for a spray-free zone. Citizens could also consider working with neighborhood associations to discuss strategies to make neighborhoods safer for pollinators.

Weeds and Native Seeds

Most "weeds" in your yard - from dandelions in the spring to chamisa in the fall - are flowering food for most pollinators. For more information on local native flowering plants, Xerces publishes regional gardening guides. The USDA’s PLANTS database is also a useful tool to determine whether a plant is native to the state, or included in any federal or state noxious weed lists.

Go Chemical Free

There’s more to creating a bee-friendly habitat than planting flowers and preserving habitat. Backyard sprayers continue to create the biggest problem for pollinators. Pesticides and insecticides sprayed on or near pollinator plants have the potential to affect pollinators. Alternatives like vinegar can be effective in controlling garden weeds. The Dirt Doctor shared this recipe for vinegar-based herbicide (this spray will injure any plant it touches, so use it only on those you want to remove):

Organic Herbicide Formula:

  • 1 gallon of 10 percent (100 grain) vinegar
  • Add 1 ounce orange oil or d-limonene
  • Add 1 tablespoon molasses (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon liquid soap or other surfactant (such as Bio Wash)
  • Do not add water

Also try soap sprays, manual weed-pulling, and groundcovers; more information can be found at these DIY sites:

Many over the counter backyard sprays contain neonicotinoids which cause honeybee kills. View a list of alternatives to insecticides that kill bees and all beneficial bugs, including neonicotinoids.

Further Reading

Learn About Bees!

If you would like a representative from the NM Beekeepers to speak with your neighborhood association or civic group about pollinator health and safety and alternative ways to deal with pests and "weeds", please email [email protected] or call (505) 514-4982, or contact Kent Swanson, Open Space Visitor Center Manager, at [email protected] or (505) 897-8831.