The Woodstock Town Council on Tuesday committed to making the town a sanctuary for the native honey bee population.

Council members passed a resolution that establishes the town as a Bee City USA affiliate during their regular monthly meeting. Bee City USA, an initiative of the Xerces Society, states that its mission is to “galvanize communities to sustain native pollinators … by providing them with healthy habitat, rich in a variety of native plants, and free to nearly free of pesticides.” Affiliated towns and localities aid in that mission by raising community awareness and establishing and enhancing habitats in part by planting and maintaining native plant species.

While presenting the resolution to council during an Ordinance Committee meeting last week, Town Manager Angela Clem stated that Woodstock, if it passed the resolution, would likely become the first town in the region to establish itself as a Bee City USA affiliate (she noted that Harrisonburg has been discussing a similar resolution). The organization’s website lists 116 “bee cities” across the country, including four – Hampton, Lynchburg, Scottsville and Vienna – in Virginia.

As a Bee City USA affiliate, Clem noted that Woodstock will need to establish an “integrated pest management” policy, something she said the town already does to an extent with its public works employees being “highly trained” in herbicides and pesticides. Clem added that the town will need to dedicate a webpage to pollinators, include a list of native plant species on the town’s website, organize community celebrations and create public education information.

Woodstock already participates in Tree City USA, an Arbor Day Foundation program.

“We sort of already do some of that education with the community and talk about native planting and talk about native pollinators, so it would just be ramping up those efforts,” Clem said during the Ordinance Committee meeting.

Clem added that local beekeepers in Shenandoah County have expressed interest in collaborating with the town.

Cost to participate in Bee City USA is minimal, Clem said. After a $100 application fee, the costs to the town include those associated with holding related events and community outreach, and a time commitment for some town staff.

Mayor Jeremy McCleary and council members Michael Funkhouser, Alicia Gutshall, Frank Haun, Stephen Heishman and Jacqueline Lambert attended Tuesday’s meeting. Councilmember A. Paje Cross was absent.

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