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PCC abuzz about bee-saving certification

COURTESY PHOTO - Portland Community College officials plan to assist pollinators such as honeybees by replacing swaths of grass with nectar- and pollen-rich flowers on their campuses.Portland Community College is the fourth higher education institution in the nation to be certified as an affiliate to promote the benefits of pollinators, according to Bee Campus USA.

The designation recognizes campuses that commit to supporting pollinators, including bees, butterflies, birds and bats. 

“We are proud to be named the fourth certified Bee Campus USA in the nation,” said PCC Interim President Sylvia Kelley. “There are already many students, faculty and staff working on pollinator health and sustainability issues. The members of our newly formed Bee Campus USA Committee will provide good leadership to these pollinator conservation efforts. We’re all excited about our Bee Campus efforts.” 

The college plans to develop a Campus Pollinator Habitat Plan that will include a native and pollinator- friendly plant list with regional sources. PCC already utilizes pest management practices at all of its sites that use pollinator-friendly products.

Staff are regularly educated on best practices and chemicals are used only as a last resort. 

“Imperiled pollinators are responsible for the reproduction of more than two-thirds of the world’s plant and tree species,” said Phyllis Stiles, Bee Campus USA director.

“Portland Community College is a stellar example of the influence community colleges can have on their students and larger communities. Their talented faculty, staff and students offer an invaluable resource for the entire community seeking ways to manage ornamental landscapes in more wildlife-friendly ways,” she added.

PCC is looking to replace grass with more pockets of perennial flower beds on all of its campuses.

PCC gardens already grow herbicide- and pesticide-free produce for staff, students and the greater community in its two learning gardens at the Sylvania (Southwest Portland) and Rock Creek (Northwest Portland) campuses. The “Organic Gardening” class at the Rock Creek uses the learning garden extensively and has installed native bee houses. 

At the Sylvania campus, biology faculty are using pollen identification to help students learn how to use light and scanning electron microscopes.

At Rock Creek, chemistry and biology faculty are collaborating on a project to extract pollen from honey from the campus beehives to determine from which plants the pollen originates.