Just when you think our town couldn’t get any better, it amazes you again. A local non-profit, Bee Bold Mendocino, alerted our city council to an amazing program called Bee City USA® and sure enough, the council supported Fort Bragg in becoming the first Bee City USA® member in the state of California. We’re not only proud to be leaders in the state, we’re grateful that making a commitment to nurture habitat for these amazing pollinators will have a positive impact on our community, our gardens, and our ability to grow food here on the coast for decades to come. The Reverend Tanya Wildflower (isn’t that a wonderful name for a beekeeper?) is one of the founders of Mendocino Coastal Bee Keepers Guild, with more than 200 avid beekeepers, so we now have two active local groups ready to support our progress in what we can do as a community to maintain our healthy coastal ecosystem and take care of our wild bee population.
Learning How to Protect Bees and the Environment
We know we’re at the beginning of our learning process. As we educate our local community in the value and sacredness of these amazing creatures, we will be able to engage children in the schools, and work with the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, local garden clubs, the Noyo Food Forest, local community gardens, and local nurseries to come up with ideas about how to implement the program and raise awareness in the general public.
Bee Basics, An Introduction to Our Native Bees
The USDA Forest Service and Pollinator Partnership Publication, Bee Basics, An Introduction to Our Native Bees is available online for free. It is a fascinating compendium of information about all the different kinds of bees, their nesting practices, the bee’s heritage, habitats, and habits—even the specific body components of different types of bees, and how they function for these extraordinarily important creatures. It also covers floral specialization of specific types of bees. For example, the squash bees pollinate only squash, pumpkin, and zucchini. Honey bees, bumble bees, carpenter bees and even cuckoo bees – they’re all in this handy and informative publication. Did you know that there are more than 4,000 bee species who help take care of the 250,000 flowering plant species on earth? No wonder they’re so important to the survival of the planet. Here are a few things that becoming a Bee City USA certified member city will mean to Fort Bragg:
We’ll be able to protect a variety of animal species, increase community awareness of how food grows, improve local food production, help local nurseries and businesses by increasing demand for pollinator-friendly native species, alert people to the dangers of non-native invasive plants, educate people about non-toxic alternatives to pest control, and encourage urban beekeeping and related products and businesses. We’ll support small-scale entrepreneurs, including purveyors of local honey unique to the area. These local honeys not only taste amazing, but are also very beneficial to the immune system of local people who consume them. We’ll have a more vibrant, educated, and healthy community here just by making sure our bees have a safe environment to live in. As an example of how this is already working, our local Thanksgiving Coffee Company has partnered with Friends of the Earth and will donate a portion of sales of #BeeBold coffee. The impact of the decisions we’re making as a city right now will affect the well being of our town exponentially for years to come.
A Nationwide Network of Bee Friendly Cities
As part of our certification agreement with Bee City USA, we will have an annual proclamation of intent to support protecting the bees, we will host new activities to promote public awareness, and we’ll report what we do to Bee City USA. That way the growing network of U.S.cities will be able to share information about activities and programs that really work, and the whole nation will be connected in the intricate web of life that we can never take for granted. Kudos Fort Bragg – you’ve made us proud once again!
Join the conversation about native bees here.
If you want to take action in your own state, click here.