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Carrboro, North Carolina, has long had policies that promote pollinator health. From its Least Toxic Integrated Pest Management policy adopted in 1999, through using native plants in municipal landscaping to celebrating local food and supporting local farmers, these innovations have helped brand the town as a center for sustainability and community-focused environmental action. Now community leaders are opening a new front in this effort, with the Carrboro Board of Alderman voting unanimously October 7 to become the third Bee City USA community.

According to an article in the Daily Tar Heel, much of the focus will be on educating the public about their gardening and landscaping choices, promoting the use of healthy, native plants while minimizing the use of potentially harmful pesticides. Local beekeeper Marty Hanks, whose efforts with Just Bee Apiary have been featured here on NCSC, described to the Daily Tar Heel how he sees the Bee City USA program developing:

“We will first start off with an annual event where we bring the public to the farmers market to look at plant alternatives that are not synthetically, chemically treated,” he said. “What we are looking for is to showcase local farmers or nurseries who grow healthy, North Carolina native flowers and so people will know what to plant that is green and healthy.”

The only downside may be a growth in painful bee-related puns. Mayor Lydia Lavelle reportedly opened the discussion about the resolution with a wish that this would not be a “sting operation”, while Alderman Chaney reportedly quipped “It’s not even a question of whether to bee or not to bee, we are!”

But puns may bee the least of bees’ worries. With pollinator numbers in decline in many communities, Carrboro may be demonstrating a more sustainable path forward for other communities to follow.