Lake Elmo becomes ‘bee-safe’

0221lake elmo livestock-beesWebThe city of Lake Elmo has become a safe haven for honey bees and other pollinators, thanks to a resolution passed March 3 that would stop the use of neonicotinoid pesticides in bee habitats. The resolution states that the city will designate and develop bee-safe areas that include plantings that are favorable to bees, such as city parks.

Alyssa MacLeod, Lake Elmo communication coordinator, said the park commission has been discussing the resolution and how it would affect how city parks are cared for, and how future city parks would be designed and maintained.

“The Bee-Safe resolution is something that the commission has been looking at since November … just to have the city recognize that they are in support of bees,” MacLeod said.

The honey bee population is currently going through a population collapse as its habitat and the plants bees need to survive are disappearing.

“The city acknowledges that and wants to do what it can to provide a safe environment for bees to thrive and live,” MacLeod said.

As part of the resolution, the city has adopted an action plan for its public works department to abide by that will support bees and their plant habitats by avoiding the use of chemicals that are harmful to honeybees. In public spaces, the city would also use flowers and plants that are beneficial to bees.

“As part of the plan, there would be communication out to residents and staff, and we would issue an annual progress report,” MacLeod said.

Councilmember Julie Fliflet asked if the flowers and plants that attract honeybees would also lead to an increase in wasps and hornets in city parks.

“Wasps aren’t generally attracted to these kinds of plants,” said city intern Casey Riley. “But they won’t multiply because of them.”

Riley said wasps are part carnivore, and that is why they are more annoying to people.

“They need sugar to reproduce, so that is why they attack people’s picnics,” Riley said.

The bees that the new resolution focuses on helping are native and honeybee varieties, and they are not as aggressive as wasps and hornets.

In the past, the Lake Elmo City Council passed an ordinance that allows residents to have beehives on their property with a bee license. City Clerk Adam Bell said the city has issued seven bee permits in 2015, up from one in 2014.

MacLeod said that many of the action steps in the plan to promote bee habitats are actions that the public works department currently takes already.

The council unanimously approved the resolution.

Contact Alicia Lebens at [email protected]