Black Eyed Susans (copy)

Middletown became the first Frederick County municipality to be designated a Bee City USA affiliate.

Middletown recently became the first municipality in Frederick County to be designated a Bee City USA municipality.

In June, Middletown voted to become a Bee City. The vote followed months of work by the Sustainability Committee. After the Board of Commissioners passed the resolution to become a Bee City USA affiliate, Bee City USA confirmed its designation in late September.

“Our [sustainability] committee really understands that vital role that pollinators play and certainly want to do what we can to help sustain them,” said Cindy Unangst, Middletown staff planner and Sustainability Committee co-chair.

Unangst credited Sustainability Committee member and town planning commission chairman Mark Carney with filling out the application and doing the leg work for the certification, adding that the committee is fortunate to have a lot of compassionate people who care about the environment.

“It certainly seemed like it was right up our alley and we thought, ‘Hey, we got the Tree City USA designation, let’s go for this,” she said. “We certainly thought that based on what we’re required to do to continue this certification, it was certainly easily enough done for us.”

Some of the work to be done includes installing pollinator habitat sites around town, having a standing committee and installing a Bee City USA street sign.

“How each city completes the steps to conserve pollinators is up to them,” said Bee City USA Coordinator Molly Martin, according to a news release from the town of Middletown. “To maintain their certification, each affiliate is expected to report on their achievements and celebrate being a Bee City USA affiliate every year.”

Bee City USA is part of nonprofit Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

The program’s mission is to “[galvanize] communities to sustain native pollinators — responsible for 1 in 3 bites we eat and the reproduction of almost 90 percent of the world’s flowering plant species — by providing them with healthy habitat, rich in a variety of native plants, and free to nearly free of pesticides,” according to the Bee City USA website.

These pollinators include honey bees, bumble bees, butterflies and hummingbirds, among many others.

There’s also an side to the certification that will include educating residents about pollinator sites and encouraging them to create pollinator sites on their own land.

A list of native plants will also be available to residents so they know what plants will benefit the project.

Follow Hannah Himes on Twitter: @hannah_himes

(5) comments

MD1756

It's a shame that the article didn't discuss any adverse impacts of pesticide use on pollinators. Does certification include an effort to reduce pesticide use? What good does it do to provide an habitat if their food sources are poisoned?

From Xerces website: "Pesticide contamination is wide-spread. More than 90% of pollen samples from bee hives in agricultural landscapes and more than 90% of stream samples are contaminated with more than one pesticide. It is critical that we work simultaneously to reduce use of pesticides and to minimize the risk of pesticides to pollinators where pesticides are used." How much impact is farming and residential use of pesticides in Frederick county having on the local pollinators and what can Frederick county residents do (or not do) to help?

gabrielshorn2013

Spot on md1756. Folks want that perfect looking fruit, pest-free garden, and weed-free lawn, but there is a serious environmental cost to that, in the loss of pollinators and other insects like fireflies when pesticidesare used to achieve it. Our pasture and lawn are virtually weed-free because we overseed every fall, as well as letting the orchardgrass go to seed. There are few flies because we use parasitic wasps to control them. The vegetable gardens are regularly populated with ladybugs, lacewings, and other beneficial insects, as well as BT spore. We haven't used a pesticide in three decades. There may be a few blemishes on our apples and pears, but we can eat them straight off the tree without washing the pesticide off. Same with the vegetables. No problem with Japanese beetles either, so the roses are beautiful. There is plenty of information out there, and USDA has free guidebooks to help. Our next project is installing beehives near our fruit trees and garden.

oldmagpie11

Excellent points, md1756 - gabe's personal anecdotes are good responses but not all are applicable to everyone. I live in an apartment and my suggestions to remedy the damage done by the landlord's mow-whack-and-blow contractor generally fall on deaf ears because these contractors aren't environmentalists or gardeners. USDA recommendations are geared to farmers. The University of Maryland Extension runs the Master Gardener program and the Frederick County group offers a wealth of information and environmentally aware lawn and garden suggestions for home gardeners. A lot of folks don't realize that they are subject to the same laws for insecticide and fertilizer use that farmers and landscape professionals are.

IPM (integrated pest management) is one way to describe gabe's approach to environmental friendliness. Here is a start, the National Pesticide Information Center: npic.orst.edu/pest/ipm. The University of Maryland program resources can be found here: extension.umd.edu/frederick-county/home-gardening/master-gardener-program. The Pollinator Committee offers a program to certify your yard as pollinator friendly; a "yard" can be a postage-stamp sized patio garden or the grounds around a large multi-family complex - or the hospital! Critically important is offering native plants that provide the proper nutrients for all life stages of pollinators. Getting your community on board helps too - your bountiful buffet of native plants may be downwind of a neighbor who sprays pesticides when the sun is up and the bees are active. There's a LOT that Frederick County residents can do :)

Hayduke2

Along with climate change, the decimation of pollunators is a major concern. Kudos for the efforts.

Dwasserba

Hooray!

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