Congratulations are in order for the city of Hampton as City Council recently passed a resolution designating it as a “Bee City,” or a place where bees, and other pollinators including butterflies and beetles, can live and even thrive.
“By signing the resolution Hampton has committed to creating sustainable habitats for pollinators,” said Wendy Iles, Hampton’s community garden coordinator.
Though they can be annoying and maybe even dangerous if you get too close, Iles said pollinators like bees and mosquitos are essential to our livelihood.
“One in every three bites you eat you can thank a pollinator for,” she said. “If we don’t provide habitats for them then we’ll see a loss of fruit and vegetable production.”
Even so, the resolution reads populations of these insects have dramatically declined because of “a combination of habitat loss, poor nutrition, pesticides, parasites, diseases, and climate change.”
The Bee City USA program aims to bring cities together to foster a sustainable environment for pollinators and increase awareness of the insects’ importance as they’re “responsible for the reproduction of almost 90 percent of the world’s flowering plant species,” according to the website.
Hampton is Virginia’s fourth Bee City USA affiliate following Lynchburg, Scottsville, and Vienna to dedicate undisturbed and pesticide-free spaces allowing for pollinator populations to increase and to plant pollinator-friendly gardens that also provide cover in the winter.
To show city officials what it would mean and that it was possible to become a Bee City, Iles said the Hampton Clean City Commission Board voted to start taking the steps necessary to have the resolution approved last May.
Since then Iles said the Bee City team, which is made up of about 20 different organizations, have organized to install at least five pollinator habitats in community gardens throughout the city and are discussing plans for more in places like Air Power Park and the Coliseum area of the Waterwalk.
Iles also said the habitats don’t always have to be elaborate or planted in a large space.
“We’re helping put in individual pollinator planters in Downtown Phoebus…it’s still going to increase pollinators and beautify the area,” she said.
Another part of the resolution supports education and awareness programs to be facilitated by the Hampton Clean City Commission Beautification Committee to which Iles said will have information for the public on city’s website to learn more about how they can support their own pollinator habitats.
“We’ve started developing a certification program for residents’ yards so we can go out and give them education but also if they meet the criteria then they would be offered a certificate for their yard,” she said.
Until then, visit the Hampton Master Gardners’ social media page for educational opportunities or the Hampton Clean City Commission and Hampton Community Gardens for more information.