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News / Business / Clark County Business

Port of Vancouver, Vancouver Bee Project collaborate on new bee habitat on port property

Site will be filled with native plants, flowers to attract pollinators

By Shari Phiel, Columbian staff writer
Published: May 22, 2024, 6:06am

The Port of Vancouver and the Vancouver Bee Project are collaborating on a new bee habitat on port property. While it’s just a big black sheet of plastic at the moment, eventually the area will be filled with native plants and flowers that will attract native bees.

“We became aware of the Vancouver Bee Project … a local nonprofit organization working to boost pollinator habitat,” port spokesman Casey Bowman said Tuesday.

The bee habitat is in the port’s mitigation bank, a preserve of trees, wetlands and riparian habitat in the Lower Columbia River watershed.

Compared with the total size of the property, Bowman said the bee habitat will be fairly small.

On the web

For more information about creating a bee meadow and plants that will attract native pollinators, visit vancouverbeeproject.org.

“It’s not acres and acres,” he said.

This isn’t the first bee habitat project in Clark County or even at the port, Vancouver Bee Project spokesman Kyle Roslund said. Another of about 2,500 square feet went in at Great Western Malting’s site at the port in November. Bowman said Great Western Malting “already has pollinators starting to buzz around their section.”

Other projects include a bee habitat site at Vancouver’s Water Resource Center on Southeast Columbia Way and a large, agricultural plot near Heathen Estate Winery and Flat Tack Farm on Northeast 134th Street.

“We’ve talked to a lot of folks who are interested in doing this,” Roslund said. “We always encourage people to put in stuff that’s beneficial to pollinators.”

To prepare the port property, a 40-by-100-foot tarp was laid down to kill off unwanted grasses, weeds and plants. Roslund said there are other methods for killing off the unwanted plants, such as tilling or using chemical vegetation killer, but Vancouver Bee Project recommends using a tarp.

“Smothering seems to work the best at our latitude here,” he said.

After a year, the tarp will be removed and the soil prepared for seeding in the fall.

“They have a special seed mix that they put down that is local, native plants that maximizes the flowers that pollinators like. That’s step two,” Bowman said.

Roslund said many people think you’re supposed to plant in the spring, but he said that’s not accurate for native plant species. He said they actually should be planted in the fall.

“Especially meadow seed, like native wildflowers — they need to be cold stratified. They need to go through a winter and be rained on for a winter in order to get them to germinate,” Roslund said.

He said the goal of planting native flowering plants is to attract native bees, like the snowy adrena, blue orchard mason or western bumble bee.

“Honeybees are not native to North America. They were brought here in the 1600s with colonialism,” Roslund said. “A lot of what we’re trying to do is support native pollinators and native bees. If you grow native wildflowers, that is a good way to do that.”

Community Funded Journalism logo

This story was made possible by Community Funded Journalism, a project from The Columbian and the Local Media Foundation. Top donors include the Ed and Dollie Lynch Fund, Patricia, David and Jacob Nierenberg, Connie and Lee Kearney, Steve and Jan Oliva, The Cowlitz Tribal Foundation and the Mason E. Nolan Charitable Fund. The Columbian controls all content. For more information, visit columbian.com/cfj.