BERLIN, GERMANY - MAY 17: A bee scrambles across a flower on May 17, 2019 in Berlin, Germany. May 20 is World Bee Day, which is drawing more attention this year in comparison to previous years due to the strong and ongoing decline of bee populations in industrialized nations across the globe.

If you’ve lived in the area for long you’ve probably made a visit to Matthews, North Carolina. The town of 32,000+ is located southeast of Charlotte. I have some fond memories growing up of attending their Matthews Alive labor day parade and festival every year. But even though I’ve spent considerable amounts of time in Matthews, I never knew this fact. Matthews is Bee City USA.

According to the Town of Matthews website, they were first designated Bee City USA back in 2014. Another surprising fact, however, is that there isn’t just one city with that distinction. When Matthews accepted the title they were the 5th city to do so. In 2022 there are just under 50 “bee cities”.

Bee City USA is actually a nonprofit organization. It was founded in 2012 just up I-40 in Asheville. The organization’s mission is to celebrate and raise awareness of the contribution bees and other pollinators make to the world. They ask designated “bee cities” to adhere to a set of commitments, defined in a resolution, for creating sustainable habitats for pollinators. According to Bee City USA  more than 80% of flowering plants and one-third of our foods rely on hundreds of thousands of species of insects for pollination. Despite that many pollinators are imperiled due to disease, parasites, pesticides, and starvation caused by habitat loss.

Cites like Matthews that are designated as Bee City USA must honor these commitments:

  • Establish a standing Bee City USA committee to advocate for pollinators.
  • Create and enhance pollinator habitat on public and private land by increasing the abundance of native plants and providing nest sites.
  • Reduce the use of pesticides.
  • Incorporate pollinator-conscious practices into city policies and plans.
  • Host pollinator awareness events.
  • Publicly acknowledge Bee City USA affiliation with signs and an online presence.
  • Pay an initial application fee and annual renewal fee.
  • Annually apply for renewal and report on the previous year’s activities.

Gallery: 10 Facts About Bees From The World Wildlife Foundation