Troy Aidan Sambajon
National Beat Reporter
UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) and UCSB Plan Bee were certified by the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation as a Bee Campus USA affiliate, a recognition for their pollinator conservation efforts and work to make the campus a better place for bees and other insects. The Bottom Line (TBL) sat down with Plan Bee club members to discuss this recognition. So, what’s all the buzz about?
The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation is an international nonprofit focused on the conservation of invertebrates and their habitats. In order to become a certified Bee Campus USA affiliate, a college campus must maintain its native bee habitat, limit pesticide use, and offer educational and service-learning opportunities.
“The great news is, UCSB is already a really good place for bees,” said Alyssa Jain, who started UCSB’s Bee Campus USA committee. “We have over 90 species in the surrounding area and this is really important because having a diversity of bees means that we can pollinate the different native plants.”
UCSB Plan Bee’s goal is to support the local bee population through habitat creation, education, and community involvement. With the Bee Campus USA affiliation, the university will have support and access to training opportunities from pollinator conservation experts backed by the Xerces Society.
However, the unfortunate truth is that California’s wild bee populations remain threatened.
“A lot of native bee populations are declining, and a good percentage of them have become more vulnerable to extinction,” said Jain.
According to a study done by Auburn University’s College of Agriculture, beekeepers across the United States lost 45.5 percent of their managed honey bee colonies from April 2020 to April 2021. While bee populations tend to fluctuate from year to year, there seems to be no clear progression towards improvement for beekeepers and their colonies.
Jain thinks that it’s important for the residents of Isla Vista to understand and appreciate our role in the ecosystem as stewards of the land.
“Instead of viewing us as separate from nature, I think it’s important to really honor and respect and work together with all other species that occupy this area,” Jain told TBL.
The UCSB Bee Campus USA committee currently works with two community garden campus partners. These pollinator gardens are located at St. Michaels University Church garden and a greenhouse garden project near Harder Stadium. However, the committee also plans to build another community garden near West Campus family student housing.
Now that UCSB is certified and has its own Bee Campus USA committee, the committee plans to continue constructing pollinator gardens, continuing outreach events, and encouraging students to get involved with volunteer and internship opportunities.
“We’re always looking to grow and continue to add more things and find new ways to make this place a better place for bees”, said Jain. To learn more about UCSB’s Bee Campus USA program, visit their website or follow them on Instagram @ucsbplanbee for more updates.