UW Bothell and Cascadia Campus is now a Certified Bee Campus: The CCUWBee Research Initiative and Native Pollinators

Written by: Hailey Bergren; student reporter and Ashley Creech; Editor-in-Chief

With springtime among us, you may have noticed that flowers in your backyard are blooming, the birds are chirping, and the bees are buzzing. But what about on campus? If you haven’t spent much time on campus lately, you may not have noticed the abundance and diversity of blooming flowers on campus – so what’s that all about? 

In spring of 2017 the CCUWBee Research Initiative was created, with focus on supporting pollinator populations across campus. They survey the pollinators weekly from early spring to late fall, gathering diversity and abundance data for the bees on campus. From Mason Bees, to Wool Carder, Bumble Bees to Honey Bees, they study them all.

“Pollinators are keystone species in essentially every terrestrial ecosystem on earth, assisting in plant reproduction and supporting other species of wildlife. Pollinators touch our lives in numerous ways each day, including being responsible for approximately one-third of the food and drink we consume. The value of crop pollination has been estimated between $18 and $27 billion annually in the U.S.”

-Bee City USA

Thanks to the incredible research and hard work that the CCUWBee Research Initiative team has been putting in, the Cascadia College and UW Bothell campus is officially one of over a hundred certified Bee Campuses in the US. Bee Campuses, an initiative started by the Xerces Society, are campuses that create and improve pollinator environments, remove the use of harmful pesticides, as well as take part in bee research, education and outreach. 

In order to become an affiliate and attain the title of a certified Bee Campus, there are multiple commitments that have to be upheld. 

These include: establishing a committee to advocate for pollinators, create and enhance pollinator habitat on campus by increasing the abundance of native plants and providing nest sites, reduce the use of pesticides, offer courses or continuing education opportunities that incorporate pollinator conservation, offer service-learning projects, display signage on campus, maintain an online presence, pay an initial application fee and annual renewal fee. 

In Washington State, there are only 5 certified Bee Campuses including University of Washington Bothell and Cascadia campus. These other four locations include Gonzaga University’s campus and three locations in Seattle, Tacoma, and Olympia.

This is a title that the UWB community should be proud to have earned. But the work doesn’t stop there for the CCUWBee Research Initiative team. Several members of the team are currently working towards earning a certification from Oregon State University in melittology (the scientific study of bees) to supplement their bee education from Dr. Amy Lambert, an associate teaching professor here at UWB, and dive deeper into their research. 

“The research initiative works to support an abundance and diversity of native bees on campus, and even in the community, and it helps to educate people around what the issue is, what we can do about it, and what we can do to inform other restoration habits.” 

-Alexa Russo, Sustainability Coordinator

And it’s not just the CCUWBee team that has allowed the UWB and Cascadia campus to become native pollinator friendly, but also the gardeners of the grounds and wetlands team that focus on the holistic care of the entire campus landscape. Robby Wrench, a grounds gardener since 2015, is passionate about sustainable gardening practices and the conservation of native pollinators on campus. 

The CCUWBee Research Initiative team is leading the way in saving the bees here at UW Bothell, and there’s good news…you can join them in those efforts! Whether you are looking to join the CCUWBee team and be a part of the research or by cultivating a more pollinator-friendly environment in your own backyard, the opportunities to help save the bees are endless. 

Dr. Amy Lambert will be teaching multiple classes in the autumn 2021 quarter, which you can register for now! BES 362: Introduction to Restoration Ecology and BIS 405 Environmental Education are great courses if you are interested in learning about ecological work, conservation, and sustainability on campus.

As you do your spring planting this year, consider being intentional about planting bee friendly plants – here’s a list to choose from, from Sustainability Coordinator, Alexa Russo:

  • Lupines
  • Queen Anne’s lace
  • Mint
  • Catnip
  • Coriander
  • Borage
  • Camas
  • Buttercup 
  • Rhododendron

All UW Bothell and Cascadia students, faculty and staff are invited to participate in the monitoring efforts. CCUWBee happily welcomes volunteers, as well as independent study students (upon approval). The goal of this project is to better understand how the shared Cascadia and UW Bothell campus can support our native pollinator species.

You can also find the CCUWBee Library Archive: https://cdm16786.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p16786coll20 with work from the founding contributors Dr. Amy Lambert, Faculty Advisor in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at UW Bothell, Alexa Russo, Sustainability Coordinator at UW Bothell, Kristen Attebery, Academic Advisor in the School of STEM at UW Bothell, Jordan Fette, a student at UW Bothell, and Stephan Classen, Assistant Director of Sustainable Practices at Cascadia College .

To learn more about how to make your backyard more pollinator-friendly check out CCUWB’s website: https://ccuwbee.wixsite.com/researchinitiative/attracting-bees

Want to get more involved? The next time you come into contact with one of our friendly pollinator pals, snap a picture and send it to @ccuwb on Instagram to have your photo featured and the species of your new friend identified!

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