Enhancing Pollinator Health & Habitat
This year, the community of Lake City, South Carolina was committed to identifying areas that could be made more pollinator-friendly and also bolstering existing downtown pocket gardens with bee, butterfly, and hummingbird favorites. Perennials included several species of bee balm (Monarda citriodora and M. didyma), native milkweeds (Asclepias tuberosa, A. syriaca and A. incarnata), speedwells (Veronica), swamp hibiscus (Hibiscus coccineus), red and blue cardinal flowers (Lobelia cardinalis and L. siphilitica), scarlet sage (Salvia coccinea), and aromatic herbs such as rosemary (Rosmarinus) and thyme (Thymus). Directly sown seed annuals like zinnias (Zinnia) and cosmos (Cosmos) also vibrantly filled out warm season plantings.
Policies & Practices
Over the past year, the landscape technicians and senior horticulturist responsible for the daily maintenance of downtown green spaces opted for more organic pest controls over constant synthetic chemical use. In instances where synthetic control was necessitated, it was applied in the lowest effective dose, on still days with no wind (and therefore minimal risk of drift), early in the morning before pollinators were most active. The majority of the time, plants affected with pests were simply monitored for infestation, certain levels tolerated aesthetically, and severely damaged plant parts mechanically removed by pruning.
Education & Outreach
In 2017, we upped our pollinator outreach threefold. Firstly, Pollinator Week was celebrated during a five day summer camp for elementary aged students, hosted by Lake City’s beloved Moore Farms Botanical Garden. Kiddos participated in lots of fun outdoor pollination-themed games and activities, dissected flowers to learn about their botanical parts and functions, tasted local honey, checked out beekeeping hand tools, watched live bees at work in a Plexiglas observation hive, and dressed out like beekeepers.
A presentation was delivered at the Florence County Public Library to a group of pre-K, elementary, and middle schoolers along with their parents and teachers. Bee biology, crop pollination, honey production, and so-called “underappreciated pollinators” (think moths, bats, butterflies, birds) were discussed in a lively Q&A. Attendees tried a variety of local monofloral honeys and then were invited to explore a wonderfully interactive exhibit in the library. It included a larger-than-life playhouse hive, beekeeper and bee costumes, a pollen game, miniature farmer’s market, looped video of the inside of a hive, bee books, and more.
Talks from horticulturists to local garden clubs were especially important because native plant lists were shared, emphasizing the specialized relationship between certain insects and Southeastern native floral species, and the increasing need for forage and larval plants in the landscape.
Moore Farms Botanical Garden hosted a family workshop entitled Bug Bungalows, where children and their guardians scavenged found materials outside (pinecones, straw, bamboo, tree bark, leaves) and retreated inside to construct simple bug hotels. A lot of folks know about the collective society of the honeybee, but don’t necessarily know that solitary bees need looking after, too!
Local Website & Contact Information
You can find our community’s Bee City website at: https://visitlakecitysc.com/bee-city-usa/
Please direct any questions or comments to MFBG Senior Horticulturist and Beekeeper Katie Dickson at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you to all of the fellow Bee City USA communities for doing the critical work of attracting more pollinators to the urban landscape. Cheers!