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Issues Of The Environment: 'Bee Town Ann Arbor' Makes The City Safer For Pollinators

Aug 3, 2016

"Bee Town Ann Arbor" Logo
Credit Courtesy Photo / Facebook

Bees have always been beneficial to our ecosystem, but their numbers have declined significantly in recent years.  In this week's "Issues of the Environment," WEMU's David Fair speaks to Eileen Dickinson, representative for the group "Bee Town Ann Arbor," about ways to protect the bee population.


Overview

   *   In April of 2016, Eileen Dickinson and others began knocking on doors and asking people in Ann Arbor to pledge not to use pesticides and to take a pledge to make their yards safe havens for pollinators.  Many pollinators appear to be on the decline, and honeybees in particular are thought to be declining about 10% every year, 44% from 2015-16.

   *   This grassroots effort became known as “Bee Town Ann Arbor,” and, in just a few months, they have recruited volunteers and gained a foothold in five large neighborhoods: Wurster Park (Old West Side), River District, Water Hill, South Packard, and Crest/Washington.

   *   This movement is primarily educational and geared toward changing a perception that, by keeping lawns weed-free, neighbors are doing each other a favor.  Instead, the group promotes the health of pollinators and affect a cultural shift where neighbors see flower beds and less manicured lawns as healthy to the local ecology and agriculture.

   *   There is little controversy over lessening the use of pesticides in home gardens.  However, some ecological purists believe that, since the honeybee is native to Europe rather than North America, efforts that promote the honeybee here are misguided.  However, the majority of fruit crops grown in US are dependent on honeybees for pollination, and the bees themselves do not appear to create much competition with our native bees; efforts to protect them help all insects.

   *   Eileen Dickinson from Bee Safe Ann Arbor says that it has been amazing how quickly people have jumped on board by pledging not to use pesticides, thus far only two households have turned them down, and the group hopes to meet a goal of 75 contiguous bee-safe properties soon.  (The 75 property goal is necessary to be designated as a Bee City, USA area.  

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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at 734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at dfair@emich.edu