Monday, June 16, 2014

UDC Celebrates National Pollinator Week

The SEED School, Washington, D.C.
June 16-22, 2014 is “National Pollinator Week.” Designated by the U.S. Senate in 2007, “National Pollinator Week” raises bee health awareness by addressing the decline of pollinator populations, which include bees, butterflies, bats and beetles. These pollinating animals support terrestrial wildlife, providing healthy watershed and more.

Honey bees play an important part in our agricultural ecosystem. According to the USDA, one-third of our daily diet comes from honey bee pollinated crops. Pollen is transported by honey bees, allowing plants to produce fruits, vegetables and seeds. Despite their critical role, these pollinators are being increasingly threatened by extreme weather, parasites and disease, and reductions in forage areas. Surveys of honey bee colonies as measured since 2006 have shown average winter losses of nearly 30 percent. Of particular concern is the impact of the invasive parasite, the Varroa mite, which the USDA considers “the single most detrimental pest of honey bees” and the one factor most closely associated with colony decline.  

Encouragingly, urban beekeeping is gaining in popularity, especially in Washington, D.C., with even the White House cultivating its own colonies. Honey bees thrive in pollinator patches, which offer bees blooming opportunities and a variety of flowers to support different bee species, increasing pollinator diversity. In partnership with The SEED School, the University of the District of Columbia Master Gardener Program will celebrate planting a pollinator garden as part of the Bayer Bee Care Program.

 “Pollinator forage is essential to the health of honey bees,” explained Sandra Farber, coordinator of the University of the District of Columbia Master Gardener Program. “We are delighted to partner with Bayer CropScience and come together with students and industry stakeholders to design and plant a garden to support pollinator health.”

Master Gardeners, revitalized in 2002, is a volunteer program affiliated with land-grant universities through the Cooperative Extension Service. D.C.’s Cooperative Extension programs are housed under the College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences of the University of the District of Columbia. Washington, D.C. and Baltimore City are the only metropolitan, inner city Master Gardener Programs on the east coast of the U.S. The volunteers utilize research-based information to educate the public on best practices in horticulture and environmental stewardship. Active in all 50 states and Canada, it was established to assist Cooperative Extension in reaching the consumer horticulture audience. 

The program provides interested individuals with extensive training in topics such as plant pathology, entomology, urban soils, plant propagation, and pruning clinics. In return, participants dedicate volunteer time to teach horticultural information, answer questions, speak at public events and participate in community gardening programs. Nationally, Master Gardeners volunteered more than five million hours in 2012. In 2013, 226 active Master Gardeners gave a total of 9,000 hours valued at $348,210. Currently, there are a total of 226 active Master Gardeners in the District of Columbia.  

Beekeeping was legalized in D.C. under the Urban Agriculture Apiculture Act of 2012 and is regulated by the District Department of the Environment. UDC offers beekeeping courses in partnership in with The DC Beekeepers Alliance and the Northern Virginia Beekeeping Education Consortium.

The Bayer CropScience Pollinator Garden Planting was held Thursday, June 19, at The SEED Public Charter School of Washington, D.C., is located at 4300 C Street, SE. More information on the Bayer Bee Care program is available here

See additional photos on our Facebook page.

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