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Extending opportunity: Being a bee campus

Lillian Prybil, U of M freshman and Bee Campus committee student representative, studies a bee on a narrow-leaved vervain (verbena simplex) plant. Photo by U of M student Ray Lauffer

Through the efforts of Elaine Evans, University of Minnesota Extension educator, the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus became a certified Bee Campus in 2020. As an official Bee Campus, Extension and several University colleges pledge to highlight and expand efforts to promote pollinator conservation.

Evans researches wild bee diversity and bee conservation, including the endangered rusty-patched bumble bee. “My colleagues at the University’s Bee Lab and I decided to apply for the Bee Campus designation in order to promote the good things happening for bees and other pollinators on the Twin Cities campus,” she says.

People may be familiar with the Bee Lab, but not of art department projects that raise awareness of pollinator conservation or the many pollinator-friendly habitats maintained by University of Minnesota Landcare.

Masked bees on milkweed flowers. Photo: Heather Holm

Being a Bee Campus requires the campus to establish a committee to advocate for pollinators, create and enhance pollinator habitat, display pollinator conservation signage, offer pollinator conservation courses and educational programs, and share activities online and in social media.

“As an environmental science, policy and management major, fostering habitat for wildlife is something I’m very interested in,” says Lillian Prybil, University of Minnesota freshman and student representative on the committee. “I’ve enjoyed learning about the hard work that is being done at the University on pollinator research, education and outreach, such as the numerous pollinator gardens around campus.”

Evans hopes that, as awareness of the designation spreads, she and her team will connect with more students, staff and faculty across different departments and colleges.

The Bee Campus committee is gathering a detailed accounting of pollinator habitat to help them look for areas where the campus needs pollinator habitat the most. Then they will work with the Landcare team to establish new pollinator gardens and bee lawns.

For more information and maps, visit the bee campus page.

Bee City USA, an affiliate of the Xerces Society, certifies Bee Campuses. Other Minnesota Bee Campuses are Concordia College (Moorhead), Inver Hills Community College (Inver Grove Heights), Hennepin Technical College Brooklyn Park.

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