Enhancing Pollinator Health & Habitat
Bee Safe Ann Arbor was launched in 2016 as a grass-roots effort to create safe habitat for pollinators within the city of Ann Arbor. The project is modeled after the Bee Safe Neighborhoods presented by Living Systems Institute. The focus of the project is educational: inspiring neighbors to refrain from using neonicotinoids, to consider refraining from using insecticides, fungicides and herbicides in lawns and gardens, and to plant pollen and nectar-rich plants.
We focus on neighborhoods and have trained a few volunteers to canvass in their neighborhoods. We provide them with resource materials, including:
- Information on pesticides
- Information on plants
- Bee Safe Ann Arbor brochures
- Bee Safe Ann Arbor wallet cards with contact info and the list of specific neonicotinoids to avoid when shopping in garden centers
To help neighbors recognize/identify volunteers, we provide antennae and a name tag, and in some cases a tee shirt with the Bee Safe Neighborhood logo. We also give volunteers a sample yard sign to carry. Signs are available for purchase at Downtown Home and Garden for those who sign the pledge.
During our door to door contacts we emphasize that the Bee Safe program is free and voluntary. Neighbors are sked to pledge at a level they feel comfortable with related to pesticide use and gardening and lawn care. In 2016 we had more than 140 neighbors pledge, half of whom pledged at the highest level which is to plant forage for pollinators because they are not using neonicotinoids, insecticides, herbicides and fungicides. Wurster Park neighborhood has achieved Bee Safe status with Living Systems Institute, having at least 75 contiguous properties pledged. We have several neighborhood businesses who have pledged as well.
The focus of canvassing is educational and more neighbors are aware of how they can assist with pollinator health. The planting of nectar and pollen-rich plants is beautifying residential areas. Children are particularly attentive when we come to their doors.
Policies & Practices
In addition to canvassing we have participated in tabling events, including at the vendor area of the 2016 AAFG Garden Walk. We worked with Slow Food Huron Valley for an event in June 2017, a Hive Hop in the neighborhood, touring beekeeper’s yards. This event was so well received by the public that it will become an annual event.
We have also been partnering with Washtenaw County Parks which hosted Pedal to Pollinators in August 2017. Centered at County Farm Park there were tours of pollinator gardens (very educational). Slow Food Huron Valley’s Ark of Taste garden, hikes led by UM graduate students to identify native pollinators, and a bike trip through the neighborhood to look at native plant gardens, ending at the Wet Meadow at Buhr Park.
We also sponsored an Organic Lawn Care talk at Leslie Science Center in August 2017 with Erika , local seed savers, Nature and Nurture Seed Company.
Shortly after Bee Safe Ann Arbor launched, the City of Ann Arbor became part of Bee City USA. Through serving on the Bee City Committee we have been able to connect with Leslie Science Center and Ann Arbor Natural Area Preservation. We plan to continue our connection with Slow Food Huron Valley, Washtenaw County Parks, NAP, and Leslie Science Center. We are now working with the University of Michigan in pursuing Bee Safe Campus status. The Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market is now making Bee Safe signs available to vendors who grow in a way that protects pollinators. We have plans to work with landlords, the faith community, and Ann Arbor Public Schools.
Last year, the City of Ann Arbor developed a Pollinator Sub-Committee, part of the Environmental Commission, to bring individuals and groups together already working on pollinator initiatives to partner and strengthen pollinator protection in the community, install pollinator habitat, and increase general public awareness about the importance and significance about pollinators.
Education & Outreach
In 2018, we hope to:
- Get 4 more neighborhoods certified as Bee Safe
- Continue quarterly communication with neighbors who have pledged through the Bee Safe Campaign.
- Develop a sustainability plan
- Improve visibility with web presence
- Hold events: Hive Hop, Pedal to Pollinators, Organic Lawn Tour
- Expand the presence of Bee Safe vendors at Farmer’s Markets
- Participate more fully in Pollinator Subcommittee meetings (Environmental Commission)
- Facilitate Bee Safe Campus at U of M
- Have Ann Arbor Public Schools sign pledge and educate students about pollinators/gardening for pollinators/effects of biocides/insects as necessary part of food web and not to be feared
- Work with the County to increase pollinator habitat.
We have reached about 300 people through our Facebook page. We have presented to Ann Arbor Backyard Beekeepers, Washtenaw County Master Gardeners, Ann Arbor Reskilling group, Dexter Garden Club, Ann Arbor Steward’s Circle, Local Food Summit, and other smaller groups. We have been asked to consult with condo associations about becoming pollinator friendly. Tabling events have reached many hundreds more (Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market, Mayor’s Green Fair, Cobblestone Farm Market, Homegrown Festival, Earth Day Festival at Leslie Science Center, Ann Arbor Farm and Garden Walk, and several others). The potential to reach more people is endless!
We have been so pleased by the enthusiasm and support that the City of Ann Arbor has provided us toward sustainable pollinator initiatives that we only see even bigger and better things to happen in 2018 and beyond!