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Attend the May 20 World Bee Day Event on Campus

Bee pollinating a flowerBees have been buzzing around the Earth for millions of years. Today, they are responsible for pollinating over a third of our food supply, according to Kevin Anderson, adjunct professor of Public Health and coordinator of the Ogier Gardens. Think of that as one bite in every three you take.

Yet, the number of bees is dwindling at an alarming rate, putting our environment and food supply at risk, Anderson said. How then do we create bee and pollinator friendly environments?

To learn more about beekeeping and the critical role that bees play in our environment and food security, UNF is inviting the campus community and the public to attend an event May 20 at Ogier Gardens in celebration of World Bee Day. At 10 a.m., attendees will learn how they can help to save the bees from local beekeeper Greg Harris and join in on a free honey tasting. At 11 a.m., participants will be able to construct and take home “bee hotels” to attract native bees in their own backyards.

In addition, participants will learn more about UNF’s newest certification as a Bee Campus USA Affiliate. “We have been growing food organically at the Ogier Gardens for a long time,” Anderson said. “So, we have always been trying to reduce the use of pesticides. Now, as a University, we can work to further eliminate pesticides and make UNF an even more bee friendly campus.”

As part of Bee Campus USA, which includes universities around the country, UNF will work to create additional habitats with native plants and an integrated pest management plan. The campus also will host events to raise awareness about protecting pollinators in the Northeast Florida area.

The program is affiliated with Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, a nonprofit organization based in Portland, Oregon. Bee City USA’s mission is to galvanize communities and campuses to sustain pollinators by providing them with a healthy habitat, rich in a variety of native plants and free from pesticides.

Rhonda Gracie, horticulturist in Physical Facilities, worked with Anderson to obtain the Bee Campus designation. “I see it as a way to make the public more pollinator conscious by providing ongoing events and a future UNF bee campus website to raise awareness of the plight of our pollinators,” Gracie said. “And each year the campus is held accountable because we must renew our affiliation annually and report on our accomplishments from the previous year.” Both Gracie and Anderson serve on a newly formed committee that will oversee the program.