Already a ‘bee-autiful’ Bee City, Denton also obtains ‘Monarch City’ status

Already a ‘bee-autiful’ Bee City, Denton also obtains ‘Monarch City’ status

Already a ‘bee-autiful’ Bee City, Denton also obtains ‘Monarch City’ status
August 30
16:30 2018

Even in 90-degree weather, some of nature’s busiest laborers — bees and monarch butterflies — are working hard to collect the pollen they need to survive. Denton helps out the buzzing yellow creatures by already being a Bee City.

But now, Denton plans to help out monarch butterflies, too, by becoming the first Monarch City in Texas.

Becoming a Monarch City

Sarah Luxton, Sustainability Coordinator for the City of Denton, is well-versed on what it means to be a Bee City and a Monarch City.

“It means that our community is active in their pursuit to support pollinators in our community,” Luxton said in an email.

Almost 1 billion monarch butterflies have disappeared since 1990, which is why Monarch City USA was created: to encourage “America’s 19,000 plus municipalities to directly help the monarch butterfly population recover by encouraging and planting milkweed and nectar plants within their boundaries.”

This month, the city of Denton joined Monarch City USA. For Denton to join and maintain membership, they must publicly proclaim that the city is committed to helping monarch butterflies survive by immediate and future actions, while also encouraging citizens to plant private milkweed and nectar gardens throughout the city.

According to Luxton, a Monarch City must also work with gardening, landscaping and/or arboretum clubs in the city, purchasing and placing Monarch City USA signs at appropriate sites, convert abandoned lands to monarch butterfly habitats, re-establish native milkweed and nectar plants where possible and host an annual monarch butterfly festival. A Monarch City must also integrate monarch butterfly conservation into the city’s future land-use planning efforts, investigate possible monarch butterfly sanctuary sites and work with the local K-12 school system and educators to promote a better understanding of land use conservation.

“[Pollinators like butterflies and bees] are critical when it comes to food production,” Luxton said. “[T]here are several benefits.”

Just like Denton being a Bee City, being a Monarch City is also beneficial.

“[Denton being a Monarch City] is really important as well for a lot of the same reasons of it being a Bee City — just to promote that education and that habitat growth for the pollinators,” said Rachel Weaver, an intern at Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center.

Denton is in the path of the monarch butterfly migration and every spring and fall, Denton residents can see the butterflies making their journey.

Weaver wants people to know about the importance of the migration.

“I think that [Denton being a Monarch City and being in the path of the monarch butterfly migration] can foster a lot of environmental education, and there’s a lot of ways for citizens to interact with scientists and [record] … when they see monarchs or bees, or identifying native bees and honeybees,” Weaver said. “It’s just a really great way for people to start to tap into that environmental education and [learn] more about sustainability overall.”

Keeping the “Bee City” title

In 2016, the city of Denton was accepted into Bee City USA, with the criteria including a local policy that allows urban beekeeping, a local beekeeping association (Denton County Beekeepers Association), educational opportunities for beekeeping, annual proclamations during pollinator week and a celebration event for the bees.

The Intro to Beekeeping Class educates many in the community, which will be hosted on Oct. 20 by the Denton Clear Creek Natural Heritage. To celebrate the bees, the Denton Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center also hosts an annual Honey Run.

“[Every] year, we have to keep track of these requirements and report them to maintain our membership,” Luxton said.

Denton has also started laying down guidelines to permit beekeeping in section 6-49 in the Code of Ordinances.

“It was great for the city to show that it supported residents that wanted to support beekeeping or wanted to experiment with it, as well as defining the importance of natural spaces that help provide a habitat for those insects,” Weaver said.

Being both a Bee City and a Monarch City

Around 90% of the world’s wild plants depend on pollinators like bees and monarch butterflies to reproduce. One out of three bites of food we eat is courtesy of insect pollination, but pollinators are declining at a rapid rate worldwide. By being a Bee City and a Monarch City, Denton looks to combat some of the problems pollinators face.

Perks of being a Bee City and a Monarch City in Denton include ensuring the survival of vital animal species, improving local food production, stimulating the local plant nursery market, engaging the community and educating locals, addressing pest problems, increasing small business opportunities and strengthening relationships with local organizations.

“[Denton being a Bee City and a Monarch City] means that we are not only supporting our local pollinators but also our local farmers that depend on pollinators,” Luxton said.

To help the bees and monarch butterflies in Denton, Luxton recommends joining a local association affiliated with these programs like Denton County Beekeepers Association, Denton County Master Gardner’s or Elm Fork Texas Master Naturalist.

“Communities can also help by [buying] native or adaptive plants and creating their own gardens,” Luxton said. “[We] encourage everyone to take a class on beekeeping [and] gardening for wildlife or monarch watch.”

UNT ecology senior Victoria “Tori” Cavazos initially heard about Denton’s status through social media.

“My first reaction to the announcement was curiosity because I wasn’t entirely sure what a ‘Bee City’ or ‘Monarch City’ entailed,” Cavazos said in an email. “I am proud of Denton for taking the initiative and excited they are encouraging the community to plant species that support bee and butterfly populations. I think it’s a great idea and I hope people will show interest and participate.”

Not only does Cavazos love bees and monarch butterflies, she also practices being eco-conscious and helping others be eco-conscious as well.

“It would be great if [being a] Bee City and a Monarch City could also encourage the use of pollinator plants that are native and drought-resistant, if they aren’t doing so already,” Cavazos said. “I just want to keep the plants and animals I love so much safe and healthy.”

Featured Image: A bee going to another flower to pollinate at Clear Creek Heritage Center. Emily Olkkola

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Emily Olkkola

Emily Olkkola

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