Raleigh is a Bee City USA
In June 2017, Raleigh became a Bee City USA. Raleigh is one of over 40 cities across the nation to officially become a Bee City USA. This is a joint effort between the city and community partners to continue to educate the public and provide support for pollinators and habitats in Raleigh. Raleigh has committed to create sustainable habitats for pollinators.
Pollinators and pollinator habitat help sustain our ecosystem and natural resources. One out of every three bites of our food is made possible by a pollinator species. Protecting pollinator species and habitat is essential to a sustainable food system. The city supports pollinator habitats through Urban Agriculture and Pollinator grants, community partnerships, as well as pollinator projects. We are committed to raising awareness of the essential role bees and other pollinators play in the complex food web as well as creating and sustaining pollinator habitat in Raleigh.
Here are some examples of city pollinator projects:
The city’s Transportation Department has pollinators in mind at the under-construction Union Station, Raleigh’s new multimodal transit facility in the Downtown Warehouse District. Thanks to a visionary team at the City of Raleigh’s Urban Design Center, the new transit facility will include a pollinator garden. Funded in part by a grant from Burt’s Bees, the Raleigh Union Station Pollinator Garden will “perform as a truly regenerative landscape” coupling low-level remediation to detoxify contaminated rail yard dirt with creating pollinator habitat.
The Public Utilities Department has been very supportive of pollinators by conducting pilot initiatives and incorporating pollinator habitat into their projects. The Neuse River Resource and Recovery Facility (formally Neuse River Wastewater Treatment Plant) has more than 75 acres of sunflowers that are not only processed into biodiesel to fuel the equipment at the facility, but are there to serve as a massive field of pollinator habitat for bees and other species.
Further, the agricultural field’s buffer zones are planted with species for pollinator and wildlife habitat and fields that are unsuitable for reuse water irrigation and biosolid application are converted to low-maintenance plant pollinator species. This includes more than sixty acres of various types of clover!
After learning of a recommendation to support pollinators under the Federal Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, the city’s Public Utilities Department took initiative to support pollinators at a project on Wrenn Road. Here, five city-owned acres of land adjacent to Wrenn Road was planted with white clover to provide pollinator habitat.
The Parks and Recreation and Cultural Resources Department has several initiatives that support pollinator habitat: native plantings, pollinator gardens, butterfly gardens and outreach and education programs. The Department has a policy to prioritize the planting of native species and cull invasive species using the NC Native Plant Society list as a guide. This is an effective way to build native wildlife habitat that sustains pollinators. A few examples of places you can find pollinator habitat or programming include: Wilkerson Preserve Park, Durant Nature Preserve, Anderson Point Park, Walnut Creek Wetland Center, and Fred Fletcher Park.
The City has Research Partnerships with NC State University and the State of North Carolina’s Wildlife Resource Commission to determine the most suitable pollinator species for various sites and applications. For example, discussions are ongoing to understand the best species to plant under solar panels that would require no maintenance or cutting and thrive in the shaded area, while providing the added benefit of pollinator habitat.
City Departments continue to evaluate opportunities to host pilot projects and partner with the community to support pollinator species and habitat. There are also numerous community resources dedicated to promoting pollinator habitat. For example, NC State University has pollinator habitat projects around campus and the city.