Beyond Honey: California Properties Landscape For All Pollinators

Inspired by the urban honeybee program at Calgary’s 8th Avenue Place, Logan Bjorkman at San Francisco’s 55 Second Street began exploring their own bee hiving options, consulting with EAP staff as well as local experts. The result was an eco-friendly pollination effort tailored to their city’s unique environment, and nicely complimented by programs already in place at 101 California and 75 Hawthorne.

According to Shirley Vaughan, Hines horticulture manager for owned and managed properties in the Bay Area, “San Francisco’s lack of natural open spaces and large scale landscapes means the bees and other pollinators have to work a lot harder to find food--and as a result, may not be able to collect the large amounts of nectar required to produce surplus honey.  Remember the reason bees make honey in the first place is to sustain their colonies during the many months when there is no pollen or nectar available”.  So, while the San Francisco bees on 55 Second Street’s rooftop are not, like their Calgary cousins, producing jars of local honey--they are thriving and pollinating.

UrbanBeeSF beekeeping expert Terry Oxford agrees, and was delighted to team up with Hines. 

“It’s great that honeybees are getting all this attention,” says Vaughan. “But not everybody needs to put a hive on their roof to help.” Vaughan advocates planting pesticide-free flowers and trees that provide food for the bees, both at home, and on commercial properties. “This helps the thousands of species of non-honey producing bees, and all pollinators, as well,” she adds. “A focus of ours for decades has been organic and sustainable gardening practices. We produce our own quality compost onsite from plant trimmings, for example, and favor native, pollinator-friendly plants whenever possible”.  55 Second Street also constructed a ‘bee hotel’ from materials found in nature. It makes an interesting art piece as well as providing critical habitat for native bees.

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Restoring this life to the urban environment also benefits the humans; people are thrilled to see the birds and butterflies, and the bees.