Carrboro is buzzing with a pollinator census invitation

COMMUNITY

By Michelle Cassell
Managing Editor

On August 18-19, Carrboro residents will be counting all the pollinators they can find in their environment for the 2023 Great Southeast Pollinator Census.

The Great Southeast Pollinator Census is a citizen science project created by the University of Georgia. The census takes place Friday and Saturday, focusing on Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina residents. People of all ages can participate to make a difference in pollinator conservation.

In October 2014, Carrboro became the third municipality in the country to join Bee City USA. Bees and other pollinators around the globe have experienced dramatic declines due to a combination of habitat loss, the use of pesticides, the spread of pests and diseases, the intensification and industrialization of apiculture, and the reduced genetic diversity of other species, according to the Bee City USA website.

Bee City USA is a certification program recognizing communities committed to supporting pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and moths. The program was launched in 2012 by Bee City USA, a nonprofit organization based in Asheville, North Carolina.

As pollinator populations continue to decline globally, initiatives like Bee City USA are critical for protecting these essential species and the habitats they depend on.

Through the Bee City USA program, participating cities pledge to take action to create healthy habitats for bees and other pollinators. This includes activities such as planting pollinator-friendly plants, making pesticide-free zones, and educating residents about the importance of pollinators and how to support them.

Bee City USA also provides resources and support to help communities meet pollinator conservation goals. This includes access to webinars, educational materials, and networking opportunities with other Bee City USA affiliates.

The program has grown significantly since its launch, with over 200 cities and campuses across the United States certified as Bee City USA affiliates. These communities range in size from small towns to large cities and include diverse habitats, from urban to rural.

Participating in the Bee City USA program supports pollinators and has other community benefits. Pollinators are critical to maintaining food supplies, as they pollinate the crops we depend on for food. Supporting pollinators also contributes to biodiversity and helps maintain healthy ecosystems.

In Carrboro, the benefits of the native bees and honey bees they list on their web page are:

Healthy ecosystems. Insect pollinators are required for pollination and reproduction of about 85% of flowering plants globally. They are vital for clean air and water;  provide food, fiber and shelter for people and wildlife; and support the insects that pollinate crops and form the basis of food webs.

Increases habitat for natural enemies of crop pests and consequently reduces need for pesticides.

Creates a growing demand for pollinator-friendly plant materials from local nurseries and growers.

Income earned by beekeepers and others through the sale of bee products, beekeeping equipment and supplies, and hive rentals for pollination, and heightened prestige and premium asking prices for place-based honey.

The Environmental Advisory Board and town staff support the town’s involvement in the Bee City USA program.

“We encourage school groups, gardeners, families and individuals to participate in the project,” said Heather Holley, Carrboro Stormwater Specialist, who is in charge of this year’s program. Anyone with at least 15 minutes to spare can participate. You do not need to be an entomologist to partake; we ask for only basic insect identification.”

The categories are:

  • Bumble bees
  • Carpenter bees
  • Honey bees
  • Small bees
  • Wasps
  • Flies
  • Butterflies/Moths
  • Other Insects

For more information on how you can participate at home, visit the Great Southeast Pollinator Census website at www.gsepc.org.

You can find guides to identifying pollinators, counting forms, and instructions on how to log your counts. Visit the Carrboro Great Southeast Pollinator Census web page for information and resource links: https://www.carrboronc.gov/2933/Great-Southeast-Pollinator-Census.

Carrboro Drop-In Counting Events

Carrboro town staff are hosting two drop-in counting sessions open to the public. Come by one of the sessions to learn more about our local pollinators, craft your own pollinator hotel, and participate in the census.

Friday, Aug. 18, 2023 

9-10 a.m. at Anderson Community Park (302 Highway 54 West)
1 -2 p.m. at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park (1120 Hillsborough Road)
Census forms and other materials will be provided for participants. A water bottle refill station will be available.

Contact Heather Holley at hholley@carrboronc.gov or 919-918-7426 with questions.


Michelle Cassell is a seasoned reporter who has covered everything from crime to hurricanes and local politics to human interest over the course of 35 years. As managing editor, she hopes to encourage writers of a wide range of backgrounds and interests in TLR’s coverage of Southern Orange County news. 

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