Pelham achieves Bee City USA affiliate designation

Published 2:12 pm Tuesday, May 7, 2024

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By DONALD MOTTERN | Staff Writer

PELHAM – On Wednesday, May 1, the city of Pelham announced that it had achieved its mission of becoming an affiliate of Bee City USA, an accomplishment that brought Pelham in league with more than 210 other affiliate cities within the organization.

In becoming an affiliate of Bee City USA, Pelham has joined an effort that is focused on improving natural landscapes and aiding in the proliferation of pollinators, such as bees. The designation comes as the result of a months-long application process helmed by the Pelham Garden Club, Pelham Parks and Recreation and other like-minded city staff members.

Bee City USA is an initiative of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, an organization which aims to inspire communities to make changes and investments that sustain pollinators. The organization encourages a number of actions to accomplish that goal, such as the construction and provision of healthy habitats that are rich in various native plant species, and the allowance of those habitats to exist free of insecticides.

While carrying the namesake of one particular insect, the organization seeks to protect all pollinators, which include bumble bees, sweat bees, mason bees, honey bees, butterflies, moths, beetles, flies, hummingbirds, bats and many other species.

Pollinators are responsible for the reproduction of nearly 90 percent of all of the world’s flowering plant species and, according to the organization, also play a crucial role in one of every three bites of food that human beings consume.

Bee City USA, and its sister organization Bee Campus USA, are both programs that recognize, support and encourage the conservation of pollinators within cities, towns and counties and on college and university campuses respectively.

Pelham’s involvement with the program began in earnest when the late Teresa Nichols Riddle, a former city council president and avid member of the Pelham Garden Club, began the application process for the city to become an affiliate. With efforts still underway when Riddle became ill last November, Garden Club member Jim Collins took up the project and carried it through to its conclusion.

“Teresa started the application process, which was extensive,” Collins said. “A resolution was passed by the Pelham City Council on Nov. 20, 2023, and approved by Pelham Mayor Gary Waters and supported by City Manager Gretchen DiFante.”

After months of work, the city officially received word that the organization had granted Pelham with its affiliate status just weeks after Riddle’s death in March.

“Our City Council let it be known that we understand the importance of sustaining pollinators and want to make the city more pollinator-friendly,” Waters said. “We are grateful to Dr. Teresa Nichols and the Pelham Garden Club for bringing the opportunity to our attention.”

Pelham now stands as one of only two cities in the state of Alabama to have achieved the status of a Bee City USA affiliate, with Mountain Brook being the other municipality to have been granted the designation. The University of Alabama at Birmingham and Auburn University have also achieved similar status’ with Bee Campus USA.

In order to keep their designation, Pelham, and every other city granted the designation, must submit an annual review report and submit an annual renewal fee that is dependent on city population size. Current population numbers indicate that amount will likely be $200 when it comes time for Pelham to renew their status.

Since 2019, the organization has reported that more than 1,625 habitat projects encompassing more than 12,900 acres have been completed in the name of conservation.

As a result of Bee City USA and Bee Campus USA efforts, the organization also reports than more than 1,129,086 individuals have now engaged in the mission of pollinator conservation.