North Georgia city issues an invitation to bees

A Southern bumblebee sips nectar from an anise hyssop bloom on the grounds of Dawsonville's City Hall. Spearheaded by an effort by the Dawson County Women's Club, the city is slated to become Georgia's next Bee City USA. CONTRIBUTED BY CHARLES SEABROOK

Credit: Charles Seabrook

Credit: Charles Seabrook

Dawsonville in North-Central Georgia is rolling out a citywide welcome mat for bees and other pollinators.

With the support of city officials, the Dawson County Women’s Club is set to submit a 13-page application to certify Dawsonville as Georgia’s 11th “Bee City USA” — a nationally coveted distinction that means a community is going all-out to attract, protect and inspire appreciation of bees and other pollinators.

“Bee City USA will be a win-win for the city and the bees,” said Georgann Schmalz, the club’s second vice president. As such, it is encouraging residents and businesses to plant and maintain pollinator gardens — small or large — anywhere they can in the city.

Schmalz and Edie Chodora, the club’s conservation co-chair, and I chatted last week on the grounds of Dawsonville’s City Hall complex, where several newly installed garden beds harbored a variety of colorful native wildflowers craved by pollinators. Several bee species swarmed about the blooms as we spoke.

The Bee City USA designation efforts are similar to programs that recognize cities as bird sanctuaries. Having met all the stringent requirements for Bee City USA designation, Dawsonville is confident that it will be awarded the national certification by Bee City USA, an initiative of the Xerces Society, a national group dedicated to pollinator conservation.

Ten other Georgia cities already have the certification: Atlanta, Canon, Decatur, Dunwoody, Hahira, Jefferson, Lookout Mountain, Norcross, Pine Lake and Rome.

Pollinators are vital to the entire planet. More than 85% of flowering plants depend on pollinators for pollination and reproduction. It has been said that bees pollinate one of every three bites of food we eat. (Georgia is home to more than 400 bee species.)

Pollinators, however, are in peril due to habitat loss, non-native plants, misuse of pesticides, climate change and diseases. Programs like Bee City USA can help turn those threats around.

IN THE SKY: From David Dundee, Tellus Science Museum astronomer: The moon will be first quarter on Tuesday. Mercury is low in the east about an hour before sunrise. Venus is higher in the east and rises about three hours before dawn. Mars rises out of the east an hour before midnight. Jupiter and Saturn rise in the east just before sunset; Jupiter will appear near the moon on Friday night (Aug. 28).

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