The University of California, Davis, has blossomed into a Bee Campus USA, joining a national movement to reverse pollinator decline.
UC Davis, the only University of California campus to have the designation, joins 77 other Bee Campuses and is among more than 165 Bee Campuses and Bee Cities across the country, as designated by the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.
“Our campus is a leading institution for research and public education about climate change and sustainability, with a community of passionate, engaged faculty, staff and students,” Chancellor Gary S. May said. “We are pleased to work with the Xerces Society and our fellow institutions to raise awareness and to help create and sustain healthy habitats for pollinators worldwide.”
While participating July 20 in the International Pollinators Conference at UC Davis, Bee Campus and Bee City USA founder Phyllis Stiles took the opportunity to publicly announce UC Davis and Penn State as the newest Bee Campuses.
UC Davis is home to abundant pollinator-friendly landscaping (and staff who plan and maintain it), and academic expertise in pollination. Now, as a Bee Campus USA, UC Davis has established a committee to develop a Campus Pollinator Habitat Plan, host outreach activities and compile an annual report.
Kelly Ratliff, vice chancellor of Finance, Operations and Administration, who established the committee, said, “We are excited for the opportunity to join Bee Campus USA, an initiative where institutions can collaborate and support one another to make an impact.”
Rachel Davis, GATEways horticulturist with the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden, serves as the committee chair. “As the nation’s leading school of agriculture, we are surrounded by experts in pollination ecology, pollinator plantings, bee foraging behavior, plant-pollinator interactions, bee health and more,” she said.
“Plus we have large numbers of highly engaged students focused on everything from protecting the environment for pollinators to designing and creating habitats for them to thrive.”
Students are among the committee members, representing the arboretum’s Learning by Leading Habitat Horticulture program; and CALPIRG, an organization whose mission includes environmental activism.
The committee also includes Katharina Ullman, director of the Student Farm. “Our diversified farming systems, organic practices and native hedgerows support a tremendous variety of both native and non-native bee populations,” she said. “And our pollinator planting research internship program is helping to train the next generation of bee scientists.”
UC Davis’ Bee Campus USA designation “provides a powerful framework for campuswide collaboration, a platform for engaging a larger number of people with our findings and an additional vehicle for communicating best practices,” Ullmann said.
Committee member Neal Williams, pollination ecologist, represents faculty. He’s a professor in the Department of Entomology and Nematology whose research seeks to understand the persistence of pollinator populations, pollinator and plant communities and pollination in the context of global change.
“Being a member of Bee Campus USA will broaden our reach and offer additional opportunities for community scientist involvement.”
The Xerces Society and Bee Campus USA websites say the program “fosters ongoing dialogue to raise awareness of the role pollinators play in our communities and what each of us can do to provide them with healthy habitat,” noting that pollinators are responsible for one in three bites of food and the reproduction of almost 90 percent of the world’s flowering plant species.
The program “aspires to make people more PC — pollinator conscious,” said Scott Hoffman Black, executive director of the Xerces Society. “If lots of individuals and communities begin planting native, pesticide-free flowering trees, shrubs and perennials, it will help to sustain many, many species of pollinators.”