Bee City Los Alamos May Newsletter #1!

Gooseberry blooming in White Rock, early April 2024 | Photo by Dana Ecelberger

Wow! It has been a busy two and a half months here at Bee City Los Alamos. We officially became an affiliate on February 16, 2024. This was the result of nearly two years of promoting the idea, putting it before the County leadership, and talking about it at every possible opportunity. Kristen O’Hara of Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC Nature Center) and KokHeong McNaughton were two of the drivers of this great initiative. PEEC Nature Center agreed to host Bee City Los Alamos and is a great home for us. Cory Styron, Director of Los Alamos Community Services Department has been a great support and liaison to the County side of things. He was also instrumental in completing the critical step of revising and updating the County Integrated Pest Management Plan so that we would meet the Xerces Bee City USA requirements. Thanks Cory! You can read the IPM plan here, and the County Bee City Resolution here.

What is a Bee City anyway? We have had lots of people ask me about where to buy honeybees or how to raise them and that is not what Bee City is about, as much as we love honey! Bee City is an initiative started by the Xerces Society (www.xerces.org) to protect native pollinators. Honeybees are originally from either Asia or Europe and are more of an agricultural animal, like chickens or cows. Many hives have gone feral (wild) so honeybees are now naturalized in North America but, unlike our native bees and other insect pollinators, honeybees are not in danger of extinction and there is a lot of attention already paid to keeping them thriving. Our native bees, by contrast, are failing fast due to habitat loss, climate change, pesticide usage, loss of native plant resources (habitat loss), and a general misunderstanding or lack of knowledge about them. The idea of a Bee City, or in our case a Bee County, is to create more habitat, reduce pesticide usage, plant native plants and raise awareness about how to better sustain our native populations.

Since becoming a Bee County in February, 2024 our core group has:

  • Written and received a substantial pollinator grant through PEEC, our host organization
  • Hired a Coordinator to undertake fulfilling the requirements of being a Bee City and to report on progress
  • Created and published a website with LOTS of resources, including our Recommended Native Plant List for Los Alamos County: Recommended Native Plant List for Los Alamos County
  • Partnered with Los Alamos Parks & Recreation to create a Pollinator Demonstration Garden on Bathtub Row.
  • Hosted a table at the PEEC Earth Day Festival
  • Joined in on the PEEC Citizen Science Project on iNaturalist, which will help us gather much-needed data on our native plant species and locally native pollinators. You can get involved by going here.

It has been a busy few months, and we are just getting started. Keep your ears to the ground as we will be launching a Backyard Pollinator Project this Fall where we will be giving away a limited number of native pollinator plant “kits”. There will be a workshop in late July to talk about the plants and what is involved in planting them, and a sign-up at that event. A survey will go out this week to gather information about what kind of plants you are interested in so please fill that out. You’ll want to be on our mailing list to receive notification of this project so go to our website and sign up. www.beecitylosalamos.org

For all of you who joined in on PEEC’s City Nature Challenge 2024, Craig Martin has shared our numbers. Great work everyone!

City Nature Challenge 2024: Santa Fe Area: 734 observations, 326 species, 8 of the top 10 contributors are from Los Alamos.

Native Plants and Pollinators of Los Alamos County: 501 observations, 214 species of which 11 are pollinators and 203 are plants

We believe that it is important to do what we can, where we can, when we can to help preserve the planet for future generations. Bee City gives us an opportunity to do just that. Research is showing that, where efforts are made to create habitat, reduce pesticide use and actively advocate for local pollinators, the response is rapid and encouraging. Without pollinators, over 85% of all fruiting and flowering plants would soon die out. We would all have to figure out how to eat pine trees and the few other wind pollinated plants for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

We would love to have you join us. There are so many ways to get involved. You can start by signing up for our mailing list on the website: www.beecitylosalamos.org and by joining us for the May 18th volunteer day. Sign up here to volunteer.

Be sure to check out PEEC’s Citizen Science project. We host monthly Bee City Committee meetings that are open to the public at PEEC Nature Center (2600 Canyon Drive) on the 3rd Tuesday of each month from 4-5.

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