WILDLIFE

UDOT and USU pilot project protecting Utah’s bumblebees

Jul 19, 2023, 7:33 AM | Updated: Oct 18, 2023, 2:40 pm

At the northbound I-15 rest stop in Perry, there is a pollinator garden. A new pilot program from U...

At the northbound I-15 rest stop in Perry, there is a pollinator garden. A new pilot program from UDOT and USU is working to protect bumblebees. (Mike Anderson, KSL-TV)

(Mike Anderson, KSL-TV)

PERRY, Box Elder County — A new pilot project from the Utah Department of Transportation and Utah State University is protecting bumblebees.

At the northbound I-15 rest stop in Perry, in Box Elder County, you will find a pollinator garden that spans about 1 acre.

The idea is to give pollinators more habitat while teaching us how we can do our part to help bees at home.

“Pollinators are in decline. It’s been well-established in literature, in the studies,” Becky Yeager said.

She is part of a team of biologists who spent the last two years creating the garden.

“You know most of the food that we eat relies on pollinators,” she said. “Without pollinators, we would not have food on our table. Our animals would not have food.”

The biologists believe if they build some habitat with a number of familiar native flowers, a number of pollinating insects will come.

Yeager said, “They’re losing habitat, nectaring sources; pesticide use is a big impact to pollinators. There’s a number of factors, climate change.”

While it typically takes around seven years for something like this to really take hold with bees and other pollinators, Yeager said there are already signs that it’s working.

“I can’t believe it became so established so quickly, so successfully in just one year,” she said.

The garden includes signs, links and QR codes that give people ideas on how to help pollinators back at their homes.

“We have over 900 species of native bees in our state, which is pretty phenomenal. We should be pretty proud of that,” Yeager said.

The biologists are looking for community volunteers to help maintain the Perry garden and ideally other gardens around the state in future years.

Yeager said, “I don’t think we’ll fully know if it’s successful for another three or four years, but everything is pointing in the right direction.”

A second pollinator garden is being built at the southbound rest stop near Brigham City. It will serve mostly as a seeding source for future sites.

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UDOT and USU pilot project protecting Utah’s bumblebees