724: Phyllis Stiles on the Bee City USA Program


Our Guest:

Phyllis Stiles is founder and director emerita of Bee City USA®, which began in Ashville, NC in 2012. The North American Pollinator Protection Campaign named her “Pollinator Advocate of the Year for the United States” in 2015, the same year the sister program, Bee Campus USA, launched. To date, more than 320 cities and campuses in 45 states have joined the Bee City and Bee Campus USA networks.  Phyllis has made well over a hundred presentations and published countless newspaper and magazine articles about pollinator conservation across the nation. She spent her career at universities and non-profit organizations serving communities from West Africa to the Mississippi Delta, in fields ranging from natural resource and farmland protection to fundraising.

Listen in and learn about:

    • She started beekeeping at her husband’s request.
    • Bee City is a certification program for cities that are willing to make a commitment to conserve native pollinators.
    • Phyllis’ EPIC:   Flight of a monarch butterfly
    • What you can do to help the pollinators, even with the tiniest of spaces
    • Don’t bag up your leaves!
    • Only a small percentage of “bugs” are problematic.
    • Plant diversity discourages pest problems.
    • Do some research when you see a plant labeled as “native” to be sure it is native to your area.
    • How the Bee City USA program works
    • 75% of our crops rely on pollinators.
    • Three key things – native plants, nesting sites, avoiding pesticides
    • Wind pollinated trees are important to bees as well, even pine trees.
    • There are 20,000 species of bees, mostly solitary. 3600 of them in the US
    • The ideal pollinator garden has a scaffolding of different levels: bare ground, grasses, wildflowers, shrubs & trees
    • Her husband’s love of Asian plants resulted in a pollinator desert.
    • Cultivating relationships with conservation organizations as a retirement plan
    • Websites: www.beecityusa.org and xerces.org

As well as:

Her failure – Losing a potential applicant due to an offhand comment

Her success – Learning to trust people and be silly

Her drive – “If you act with intention, what can you do?”

Her advice – “Don’t try to do everything overnight.”

Phyllis’ Book recommendation:

Attracting Native Pollinators  by the Xerces Society

How to reach Phyllis:   

Send an email to us at podcast@urbanfarm.org and we will forward it to Phyllis.



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