By Ben Cooper
Beekeepers around Cumberland have come together to present the idea of Cumberland, Maryland joining the ranks of the Free State's Bee Cities, Bee Counties and Bee Campuses. On May 3, Ben Cooper presented the idea to the mayor and city leaders of Cumberland, and received an encouraging response. Cumberland is already an official Tree City, and is home to a rich natural setting including the North Branch of the Potomac, creeks and mountains both within the city limits and surrounding them.
The Bee City Program in Cumberland seeks to "Think Globally and Act Locally" by providing native plants for native pollinators, providing native nesting sites, and reducing the use of pesticides. The mission: make the city a better place for pollinators.
Cumberland's mayor, Ray Morriss, said he’s interested in Cumberland becoming an official Bee City.
“It sounds good. Anything that you can do to help the environment ...And it sort of fits out here where we are,” Morriss said. “Allegany County makes it a great location to do something like this.” He also pointed out the city's longterm involvement in nature and the outdoors. Next steps in the process involve connecting the beekeepers with the relevant city staff to learn more.
To become a bee city, commitments like these are developed and laid out in a resolution that is adopted by the city council. In Cumberland, these efforts will include both city staff and organizations including Let’s Beautify Cumberland, Allegheny Mountain Beekeepers Association, Cumberland Flower Club, Master Gardeners, Student groups from local schools and colleges, and Scouting groups.
How will Cumberland become a Bee City USA? What is required?
- Establishing a standing committee to oversee and advocate for pollinators. Membership would include city staff, organizational representative, and interested volunteers.
- Committee should be managed by a certified city affiliate or non-profit 501c3 organization and have regularly scheduled meetings that would be open to the public.
- Create and establish pollinator habitat on public and private land within the city of Cumberland by increasing the abundance of native plants and nesting sites.
- Reduce the use of pesticides and herbicides.
- Incorporate pollinator-friendly best management practices into city plans and policies.
- Host Pollinator awareness events such as Let's Beautify Cumberland, Native Plant Sales, Heritage Days, etc.
- Publicly acknowledge Bee City USA with signage and an online presence .
- Pay an initial application fee and annual renewal. The fee is based on the city’s population. If Cumberland is roughly 20,000, the fee would be $200.
The group is already brainstorming projects for Bee City Cumberland, including a Flood Control Structure right-of-way or "No Mow May."