“Bee” aware, Scottsdale, this Halloween season may come with a not-so-sweet treat if the rate of bees, and other pollinators, continue to plummet.
A recommendation letter by the Scottsdale Environmental Advisory Commission was created for Scottsdale City Council to bring more education and awareness about the bee population.
The draft letter was approved by all six SEAC members, during the commission’s Sept. 22 meeting.
SEAC Chair, Natalie Chrisman Lazarr said the letter was brought out from a commissioner’s personal experience with a bee infestation.
The impetus for this whole discussion about bees was from an experience of one of the commissioners that had experienced the inability to really find someone who would remove his hive – as opposed to kill it, said Lazarr.
“We wanted to let people know that these play an important role as pollinators and we wanted to allow people to understand that connection, as well as give them resources to deal with these,” said Lazarr, “that was one of the changes we made up on the sustainable Scottsdale website.”
The draft letter also offers possible steps that can be taken towards better awareness of bee conservation, as well the of the importance of Scottsdale’s pollinator population.
One of the steps in the draft letter to council includes a subscription and membership to Bee City USA, as well as the requirements for Scottsdale to maintain that membership. Some of those requirements are reducing pesticide use, bring more awareness to the public, as well as create and enhance pollinator habitats, according to the draft letter.
“That whole success was what prompted us to further look at additional things that we could do as a city,” said Lazarr, “that was the basis for our recommendation to become the Bee City USA participant.”
Bee City USA is a program by the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation to help promote native bee population through habitat enhancing, reduced pesticide use and public awareness, said Molly Martin, Bee City USA Coordinator.
“Overall, we’re seeing declines in native bee species,” said Martin.
The main cause of this is due to habitat loss from degradation, agricultural expansion and pesticide use, which is especially harmful for native species, said Martin.
“About one-third of the food and drinks that we consume is thanks to animal pollination,” said Martin, “without pollinators, a lot of our food wouldn’t exist.”
Dr. Gwen Iacona, a professor in the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University said that pollinators are critical to our ability to survive on this planet as humans because how heavily we rely on them for food.
“I think people tend to think bees and butterflies when you say pollinators,” said Iacona, “lots of pollination is done by little wasps and beetles.”
Iacona said she thinks these insects are overrepresented as pollinators.
“It’s not only the honeybee,” said Iacona, “there’s a bunch of species out there, all a little different, that are pollinators.”
“As society we have a lot of goals, right? We want a better future for our kids, then we want to be able to see species that we care about. We also want clean water, and we want enough food for everybody,” said Iacona, “there’s these things that we want as a society and we often have to make tradeoffs against them.”
“I think in lots of cases, there aren’t as many trade-offs as we think there are,” said Iacona, “often the tradeoff that we’re making is money versus the things that we care about.”
Editor’s Note: Samia Salahi is a student reporter at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications.