Black Hills State University was recently certified as a Bee Campus USA in commitment to creating sustainable habitats for pollinators. BHSU joins more than 150 Bee Cities and Bee Campuses across the country.
Eva Chase, sustainability coordinator at BHSU, said the university applied for Bee Campus USA certification over concern for the pollinator population. Pollinators, which are vital to feeding the planet, are facing global declines due to pesticide exposure, habitat loss, and poor nutrition.
“While honey bees are perhaps the best known pollinator, they’re not native to the Black Hills. As a Bee Campus USA we’re also working to create landscapes that support our native pollinators like bats, butterflies, and birds,” said Chase.
BHSU offers an online master’s degree in sustainability and last semester, graduate student Rex McDonald, who serves as the parks superintendent for Spearfish, worked on a landscape management plan and integrated pest management plan for the Bee Campus certification. As a Bee Campus USA, the university commits to minimizing hazards to pollinators by using nearly no neonicotinoid pesticides, glyphosate herbicide or other potentially dangerous pesticides.
Chase said the university will plant a pollinator garden, coordinate efforts with sustainability leaders in the community, provide community education, and celebrate Pollinator Week next June.
“We are adding more native landscaping and taking care of the native growth that’s already on campus as part of this program,” said Chase. “Native vegetation supports the native pollinators in our area.”
Bee Campus USA and Bee City USA are initiatives of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, a nonprofit organization based in Portland, Ore., with offices across the country. Bee City USA’s mission is to galvanize communities and campuses to sustain pollinators by providing them with healthy habitat, rich in a variety of native plants and free of pesticides. Pollinators like bumble bees, sweat bees, mason bees, honey bees, butterflies, moths, beetles, flies, hummingbirds and many others are responsible for the reproduction of almost 90 percent of the world's flowering plant species and one in every three bites of food we consume.
“The program aspires to make people more PC—pollinator conscious, that is,” said Scott Hoffman Black, Xerces’ executive director. “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.”
For more information about the BHSU Bee Campus USA program, contact Chase at Eva.Chase@BHSU.edu
About BHSU Sustainability
BHSU was the first South Dakota University to join the American College and University President's Climate Commitment, a consortium of 400 universities across the nation dedicated to address global warming by garnering institutional commitments to neutralize greenhouse gas emissions, and to accelerate the research and educational efforts of higher education to equip society to re-stabilize the earth’s climate. The university has many “green” initiatives including a campus garden, wind turbine, a recycling program, solar panels and utilizes many other energy efficiencies. The university offers an online master’s degree in sustainability.