UNM-Taos Receives Bee Campus USA Designation

August 15, 2023


UNM-Taos has become an affiliate of the Bee Campus USA program, designed to marshal the strengths of educational campuses for the benefit of pollinators. UNM-Taos joins many other cities and campuses across the country united in improving their landscapes for pollinators. 

“UNM-Taos is proud to be designated a Bee Campus. Our commitment to our land and our community is aligned with our commitments to sustain pollinators by increasing the abundance of native plants, providing nest sites, and reducing the use of pesticides on our campus and in our community. More importantly, we are committed to learning and sharing this work to contribute to a future where we — who love the land here — also understand our role in protecting pollinators and native species,” Chancellor Mary Gutiérrez said. 

According to UNM-Taos Head Beekeeper Catherine Brandenburg, UNM-Taos seeks to advance education and conservation opportunities for not only honey bees but for a wide range of native pollinators. The Taos chapter of Native Plants of New Mexico will work to help UNM-Taos create a native plant garden to feed pollinators of all kinds. 

Sr. Construction Manager Michael Cabral takes pride in UNM-Taos’ commitment to minimizing hazards to pollinators by using nearly no neonicotinoids or other potentially dangerous pesticides. To raise awareness about the plight of pollinators, UNM-Taos plans to publish a webpage to disseminate information to the campus and external communities including UNM-Taos’ Integrated Pest Management Plan, a list of native plants incorporated into the campus landscape including their bloom time and habitat needs, and information about upcoming events. 

UNM-Taos is excited about creating opportunities for student research and service learning. Already faculty, staff and students have worked together to study and create pollinator habitats with native plants. This spring, the campus added 32 new plants near the apiary donated by High Country Gardens. 

Bee City USA and Bee Campus USA are initiatives of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, a nonprofit organization based in Portland, Oregon, with offices across the country. Bee City USA’s mission is to galvanize communities and campuses to sustain pollinators by providing them with a healthy habitat, rich in a variety of native plants and free of pesticides. Pollinators like bumble bees, sweat bees, mason bees, honey bees, butterflies, moths, beetles, flies, hummingbirds and many others are responsible for the reproduction of almost 90% of the world’s flowering plant species and one in every three bites of food we consume. 

“The program aspires to make people more PC — pollinator conscious, that is,” said Scott Hoffman Black, Xerces’ executive director. “If lots of individuals and communities begin planting native, pesticide-free flowering trees, shrubs and perennials, it will help to sustain many species of pollinators.” 

According to Bee Campus USA Coordinator Laura Rost, “How each city or campus completes the steps to conserve pollinators is up to them. Affiliates play to their own strengths by designing pesticide reduction plans, improving habitat and holding events ranging from garden tours to native plant giveaways to bee trivia nights. Each campus must renew their affiliation each year and report on accomplishments from the previous year.”             

For more information about the UNM-Taos Bee Campus USA program, contact Catherine Brandenburg, administrator at the Office of Academic Affairs, at cbrandenburg@unm.edu or Alejandra Villalobos Meléndez, senior institutional researcher, at alevillalobos@unm.edu.