WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — Wright-Patterson Air Force Base has officially been appointed a Bee City USA, becoming the first military instillation in the nation to receive the designation.
“It calls attention to the opportunity for anybody who manages a landscape to make it pollinator-friendly, a refuge for pollinators,” Bee City USA Director Phyllis Stiles said. “For a military base to do it is just awesome, because they have 8,000 acres to work with — just imagine the millions of pollinators that can be foraging on these 8,000 acres.”
“Not only is this military base defending our country, now they’re defending our pollinators,” she added.
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base joins 50 other “bee cities” across the United States, which have committed to take steps toward saving pollinators. The Air Force base includes two hive locations, with multiple bee hives in place within each area. To receive the designation, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base first had to apply and designate a committee of individuals who would serve as the “voices of the pollinators,” Stiles said, and have the base commander sign a resolution which determined that WPAFB is committed to saving pollinators.
It also had to commit to hosting at least one event per year that promotes pollinator awareness, as well as put up signage to display its Bee City USA status in addition to maintain a web page that explains its pollinator-saving actions.
“The most important commitment of all is committing to annually reapplying for certification. With that certification, you do a report on what you’ve accomplished the previous year,” Stiles said. “That report becomes a body of reports that’s open to the public. Each report is designed to inspire other communities to follow suit … We all learn from each other.”
The designation is open to cities, counties and college campuses, who would need to take similar steps in order to become appointed a Bee City USA. If a city were to reach for the designation, the elected body would have to vote and pass the issue, followed by the mayor signing a resolution highlighting the community’s commitment to saving pollinators.
“We’re pressuring the City of Fairborn to become a Bee City USA,” WPAFB Natural Resources Technician Danielle Trevino said.
Greene County includes more than 70 parks. The Cities of Fairborn and Beavercreek as well as the Greene County Parks and Trails system each maintain more than 20 parks, respectively. Yellow Springs includes a handful of parks in addition to the three wooded areas within and just outside of the village.
“For some (communities), they’re just getting started,” Stiles said. “They just had the realization that they need to help the pollinators and that they can help the pollinators — and how vital they are to our food security and sustaining the planet. In Wright-Patterson’s case, they’ve done an awful lot already.”
Local pollinators are additionally receiving love from unexpected places, such as the Fairborn Cement Company, which planted a 30-acre field of wildflowers in 2016 as well as another flower plot over a 10-year-old reclaimed quarry this past spring that is aimed at attracting monarch butterflies. The cement company also maintains two bee hives on the grounds, which are managed by employees.
Beavercreek Council member Brian Jarvis highlighted that his city has also taken steps in recent years toward pollinator sustainability. For example, it opted to keep a 10-acre space as a natural park five years ago instead of sell it to a developer. Beavercreek also includes a piece of land between Shakertown Road, County Line Road, Patterson Road and Interstate-675 with a conservation easement in place. As Beavercreek officials work toward widening Shakertown Road as it nears County Line Road, they must consider that natural space, which has been dedicated to remain green — forever.
“We have to use our resources, but if we can give back and make things sustainable — and we can — we just have to want to,” Trevino said.
Contact Whitney Vickers at 937-502-4532. To find her on Twitter, search for @FDHWhitney.