FLORENCE, S.C. – Florence County is now home to two of South Carolina’s three Bee Cities.
Monday afternoon, the Florence City Council approved unanimously, upon the motion of Councilwoman Teresa Myers Ervin and a second by Pat Gibson-Hye Moore, Resolution 2019-16 designating the city as a Bee City USA affiliate, joining Lake City and Greenwood as Bee Cities in the Palmetto State.
Lake City was certified as Bee City No. 15 on Nov. 15, 2015, according to the Bee City USA website. Greenwood, the county seat of Greenwood County in the northwestern part of the state, became Bee City No. 42 on March 27, 2017.
City Manager Drew Griffin attributed the idea of becoming a Bee City to Councilwoman Pat Gibson-Hye Moore.
“She came into the office one day and we were talking,” Griffin said. “She kind of said we need to do something really positive about bees.”
Griffin said the city had “kicked around the idea,” before but Gibson-Hye Moore’s initiative to look at it in a broader scale encouraged the city staff to work on the idea.
“Many people forget the importance of pollinators,” Griffin said. “Without them, you just don’t have growth.”
“To make it simple, if you kill all the bees, we’ll starve,” Gibson-Hye Moore said.
Eventually, the project came to Planning Director Jerry Dudley.
Dudley said the project of becoming a Bee City was brought to him a couple of months ago. He said he enjoyed the project because of his background in biology and horticulture. Horticulture is the growing of plants.
“There’s many things that we as residents or ... as home owners do that can harm the bees,” Dudley said.
He said he learned about Bee City USA, whose goal is to protect bees and other pollinators in general.
Bee City USA, an initiative of the Xerces Society, fosters ongoing dialogue in urban areas to raise awareness of the role pollinators play in our communities and what each of us can do to provide them with healthy habitat.
The society is a nonprofit environmental organization focused on the conservation of invertebrates essential to ecosystem health. It is named after an extinct butterfly species.
Dudley said bees and other pollinators are essential to the diverse variety of food choices enjoyed in modern times. He noted that many local vegetable farmers bring in beehives from out of the area to help pollinate. He added that many farmers adopt beehives from the north during the winter.
Bees, and other pollinators, are currently undergoing a population decline. Among the causes of the decline are habitat loss, poor nutrition and climate change.
“The city, our goal is to adopt this resolution and things that we can do that would be outlined through the Bee City USA is to incorporate into city-owned property, pollinator friendly plantings, which is not very hard to do,” Dudley said. “A lot of what we already do falls in line with this. Also, to do some outreach: one organizing a committee that would be run through my office to provide outreach to the community on pollinator friendly offerings as well as pesticide use and integrated pest management control to residents.”
He noted the resolution would indicate support for local beekeepers, gardeners and farmers.
One area of concern was the ability of the city and residents to continue to use pesticides.
Griffin said the city offers a free alternative to pesticides to residents.
Dudley also said that when the city sprays for mosquitoes, using an integrated pest management system would help the city avoid hurting bees.
Coming from a farming background, Councilman Glynn Willis said he appreciated the resolution.