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Bellevue becomes Nebraska's first Bee City USA city

Bellevue becomes Nebraska's first Bee City USA city

20210407_bl_beecity

A native leaf cutter bee is seen on a butterfly milkweed flower located in the backyard of Tyler Moore’s, associate professor of biology at Bellevue University, home.

Bellevue took one step forward in becoming a greener city at the March 16 Bellevue City Council meeting.

Mayor Rusty Hike read a proclamation during the meeting declaring Bellevue as a Bee City USA.

Part of this proclamation offered support to pollinators by establishing and maintaining pollinator-friendly habitat on public and private land. This proclamation also aims to raise awareness of pollinator conservation.

There is much more buzz to bees than honey.

Bellevue University Biology Professor and Green Bellevue Board Member Tyler Moore said bees are essential to a lot of things in our day to day lives.

Moore said before he grew to have a deep admiration for bees he had some indifference towards them growing up.

“Up until, maybe five, six years ago or so, I grew up just thinking bees were fine and as long as they’re over there and if I see one, I’m not going to try to get too close,” Moore said.

He said people mostly know bees for stinging but there is much more to a bee’s purpose.

“A lot of our perceptions of bees being things that sting are really more wasp,” Moore said.

He said there are a couple of species of wasps and mostly non-native honeybees, which are colonial and in turn are a little bit more aggressive and will sting.

“The vast majority of our 3,600 native bees species are very peaceful and they’re solitary and they don’t have the desire and in a lot of cases, the ability to sting a human,” Moore said.

He said bees are important to the environment because the vast majority of flowers require some kind of pollination.

“Those flowers wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for bees pollinating them because bees are some of the best pollinators because of a variety of reasons,” Moore said.

Bees are good at carrying pollen from one flower to the next and they also they tend to go to the same flower and same species repeatedly.

Moore said other species like butterflies tend to not queue into a species as much and the pollination is not as successful as a bee’s.

Bees are also vital to agricultural crop survival.

“We’d lose probably, maybe a third of our crops if they weren’t pollinated by bees,” Moore said.

Aside from the practical side of things, Moore said bees add to the overall vibrancy of the world.

“They’re just a thing that makes life more interesting,” Moore said

Bee City USA is a designation through the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

Moore said the designation has a twofold purpose for cities.

One is rewarding communities that have a focus on creating more habitats for pollinators and reducing pesticide use.

The second benefit is the creation of an infrastructure for Bee City USA communities to get some help from experts and have a network of support for things to do to try to make the community better in regards to the environment.

Moore said the Bee City USA designation is not trying to make the city go cold turkey on using pesticides.

“We may not have the proper ecosystems in place that if you take pesticides out of maybe an agricultural field that’s been using them we might lose all the crops,” Moore said. “This takes some fine tuning.”

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