Enhancing Pollinator Health & Habitat
We have entered into an agreement with the Washington County Master Gardeners to build a demonstration garden on the Rock Creek campus, adjacent to the Learning Garden. The Master Gardeners will have a number of specialized gardens that they will use to teach a series of classes to our students and the community. All of their practices are pollinator friendly, and will further expand our pollinator habitat footprint.
Lots of volunteers came out on Nov. 17 to plant native plants and trees in the Environmental Studies Center on the Rock Creek Campus. The most difficult part was navigating the mud, but at least the sun was shining. It was a great event – we had 16 volunteers working with Max and Anne-Marie of Friends of Trees. I can ask Friends of Trees how many plants of which species went in the ground – they were primarily shrubs planted in the shrub-scrub wetland north of the oak woodland. We set out to plant 440 trees and shrubs- you can see specifics in the table below, and managed to get roughly 320 planted. We’re working to schedule a day to come through and finish the remaining plants up.
|Alnus rubra||Red Alder||15|
|Cornus sericea||Red-Osier Dogwood||50|
|Crataegus douglasii||Black Hawthorn||10|
|Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa||Black Cottonwood||15|
|Salix lasiandra||Pacific Willow||50|
|Salix scouleriana||Scouler Willow||200|
|Spiraea douglasii||Douglas’s Spiraea||100|
When Bee Campus USA director, Phyllis Stiles visited PCC in October, she said: “Dear PCC Friends: Please know that I was in awe of you and your work in pollinator conservation at PCC. It was such an honor to visit and I’m grateful for the time you spent showing me around your amazing campus.”
Policies & Practices
Herbicide and neonicotinoids have not been used at Sylvania, Southeast, Climb and Newberg centers for three years. We asked for additional staff to help with weed management on our campuses but due to a staffing freeze these were not granted.
Members of the Bee Campus USA committee serve on a district-wide Facilities Plan project to draft maps, assess needs and propose recommendations for wide range of areas. There are multiple work groups compiling information and the Sustainability Work Group has included recommendations for a major topic called, grounds and natural resources. This is currently in draft form but includes this language.
Our campuses are part of a larger, interconnected ecosystem, and the actions we take have ripple effects throughout the natural environment. The College will provide green spaces, storm water management, and native plant species across the campus to ensure and support a robust landscape that will adequately respond to future environmental changes .Portland Community College will protect and enhance the ecosystems and green spaces the College owns, manages, or impacts in order to enhance regional biodiversity and personal well-being. And the overarching goal is to promote healthy, toxic-free, resource efficient and aesthetically pleasing landscapes that encourage native landscapes, a sense of place and outdoor learning.
First Tier Commitment(s):
-Expand habitat for different pollinators (ex. monarchs) – Bee Campus.
-Reduce outdoor water use by 25% by 2025 (below 2015 levels).
-Expand food forest program district-wide and integrate edible plantings into campus landscape plans (for example adjacent to cafeteria).
-Herbicide free district-wide by 2018 (continue at the two campuses and two centers currently).
-Continue annual support of Tree Campus program (goal of 100 trees a year).
Second Tier Commitment(s):
-Reduce turf areas 40% by 2020 (below 2015 levels).
-Increase educational plant signage (including Food Forest info).
-Expand partnerships with classes to promote living lab experiences
-Prepare for potential Salmon Safe certification in 2022.
Third Tier Commitment(s):
-Create parking lot planting areas to capture storm water from paved surfaces where possible by 2020.
-Become a Pesticide free district-wide 2020.
-Remove use of synthetic fertilizers 2020.
We hope by the end of 2018 the goal and commitments will be approved.
Education & Outreach
Elaine Cole gave a presentation at the national AASHE conference in San Antonio, Texas in October 2017. It was titled, Bee Hives on Campus: Strategies to Make This Happen, and there was a good turnout faculty, staff and students from across the country.
PCC CAMPUS APIARY
There’s only one thing sweeter than 3.5 gallons of honey…that would be more than eight gallons of honey drawn effortlessly from the tap. The recent increase in productivity is credited to a gift from student Harlene Beuhler, who donated a seven-frame Flow Hives and three extra flow frames which doubled the honey production at Rock Creek.
Beuhler, a campus neighbor and student at the Rachel Carson Environmental Middle School, is familiar with the campus and recently learned of the beehive project initiated in the campus Learning Garden.
Pictured (left) are Anne LeSenne, Landscape Technology instructor at Rock Creek, beekeeping student Michael Patterson, and Flow Hive donor Harlene Beuhler.
“When I learned about the Rock Creek bees, I was excited to see what I could do to help as a part of my eighth grade project for Rachel Carson,” said Beuhler. “I wanted to support our local bee population and figured that donating a Flow Hive would be a great start.”
Beekeeping and honey production has become popular at the campus. According to Anne LeSenne, Landscape Technology Program instructor and beekeeper in charge, the enterprise started as an experiment last year and has morphed into something rather ambitious. At the center of the elevated excitement is new technology in honey rendering.
“Even though we will be able to harvest the traditional way, the Flow Hives make harvesting much easier, cleaner and faster, with less disruption to the bee colony,” LeSenne said. “It’s really ideal for those who don’t want to or can’t lift a 60 to 90 pound box full of honey, as well as those who don’t have a honey harvesting room to contain all the sticky, waxy, mess. Where harvesting could take all day the traditional way, the Flow Hive allows me to harvest a little in a few minutes or all of the honey in just an hour.
“The honey comes out without particles of wax debris, so no filtering or screening is necessary,” she continued. “We also love the Flow Hive because of the clear windows so we can see what the bees are doing inside, while they turn nectar into honey.”
Because of the educational component of the beekeeping program, the new technology allows even small children to watch the bees do their work in a completely safe setting, which improves Rock Creek’s ability to educate the community about the role of pollinators. Currently there are 13 Rock Creek students in the beekeeping program.
We applied for a Green Initiative Fund grant to add an apiary at Sylvania campus. The apiary will be installed early 2018, and honey bees will be added to that campus during the Spring through Fall, then housed at Rock Creek campus over winter. This will add to our ability to educate more students regarding pollinators.
This was our message during National Pollinator Week in June:
Have you ever wanted to get a peek into a beehive? Or wondered where our campus apiary is and how our bees are doing? Celebrate Pollinator Week with us! At Rock Creek we will have activities on Tuesday, June 13th including:
- 11 am -1 pm, Apiary tours with our campus beekeeper, Anne LeSenne. Meet at Landscape Technology, Building 4
- 11 am -1 pm, Make seed bombs (flower seed and clay balls) to throw and plant in your yard or a roadside ditch!
- 11:30 am – 3:00 pm, Pollinator education and giveaways during Portlandia FarmStandia, outside building 5. We will have all sorts of freebies including Give Bees a Chance buttons, handouts on pollinator plants and bees, two gorgeous pollinator posters on orchids and trees and packets of flower seeds.
MAPPING OUR FOOD FOREST – As part of our commitment to fighting Food Insecurity in our students, we are making maps of the fruiting trees and shrubs available at each campus. We also expanded the Food Forest at Sylvania and SouthEast campuses.
Dr. Jaimie Powell, Anne LeSenne, and Elizabeth Brewster have been accepted into the Oregon Bee Project. This is research that will be conducted on our campus to identify the native pollinators here. They will be trained and given the materials to capture and preserve pollinators on our campus, and send them to OSU to be identified. This information will help the OSU Bee Lab understand and document which species of bees are throughout the state. It will also help us identify what type of habitat we need to expand.
As part of the Biology Department’s’ work to rid the woods of invasive species, as well as identifying some of our largest trees on campus for the Arbor Day Geocaching event, we discovered a large Western Red Cedar with a healthy honey bee colony. We were able to show this tree to several interested classes throughout the summer, and will be doing continuing monitoring of the health of this hive next year.
The Beekeeping class ran two terms, Spring and Summer. The classes were very successful in both teaching and giving hands on experience in managing honey bees. Two swarms were captured. Over 8 gallons of honey was extracted and sold. One student has now become a beekeeper as part of his employment.
William Moss’ 3-D Design art class at Rock Creek had 14 students in the spring quarter and made mason bee hotels. He brought the class to the Learning Garden and apiary on May 22. The students asked questions regarding the parameters for the needs of mason bees and their habitat needs and then they designed creative and artistic mason bee hotels that will be hung around the campus in early spring 2018.
In 2017 we purchased four new pollinator habitat signs and placed two at the Sylvania campus and two at the Newberg Center Learning Garden. We researched signage for solitary and mason but they are still in the works.
In the district-wide Facilities Plan Sustainability Work Group, members have included apiaries and pollinator habitat in the maps that are included in the draft plan.