- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
An article in today's San Francisco Chronicle indicated that the Berkeley City Council is "poised to transform all the city's parks and open spaces into habitats for bees."
That's the kind of news we need more of, more often.
"If the council approves the resolution," wrote Chronicle reporter Carolyn Jones, "all future landscaping would be 'pollinator-friendly' flowering native plants intended to attract bees, bats, butterflies, moths, hummingbirds, beetles and flies."
And about time!
Indeed, the declining bee population should concern us all. Bees are beneficial insects. They pollinate our fruits, vegetables and nuts. They provide honey, wax and other products. One-third of the food we eat is pollinated by bees. Without bees, life as we know it would cease to exist.
The Berkeley City Council is expected to vote on the bee resolution at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 24 at Old City Hall, 2134 Martin Luther King Way, Berkeley. We expect the council will hear protests about bee stings. Some folks, whether they're allergic to bees or not, dislike bees simply because they sting. Say "bees" and they think "stings."
Bees? Stings. Bees. Stings.
That's not what bees are all about.
The Berkeley protestors should take a look at the UC Davis Arboretum. The UC Davis campus is oh, so fortunate to have an arboretum filled with bee friendly plants. The bees go about their business while arboretum fans go about theirs. Folks stroll the paths, relax on benches and admire the gardens--which include bees, butterflies and other insects.
And in October when the half-acre Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven is dedicated on the grounds of Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Facility at UC Davis, the landscaping on campus will be even more enjoyable. It will be a place to inform, educate and entertain.
That's the way it should be.
Of course, plans for the Berkeley bee habitats would include precautions. All bee friendly landscaping would be planted at least 30 feet from children's play areas, barbecues, garbage cans and picnic tables.
"Staff would also post signs in the parks explaining the importance of bee habitats," Jones wrote.
Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates got it right when he told the Chronicle reporter: "I read about the bees declining and thought 'This is terrible. What can we do?' Making our parks pollinator-friendly is totally possible and economically feasible and a good way to help bees in our city."
Now the next step ought to be to encourage residents to plant bee friendly gardens.