Project Eleven Hundred is organized to ensure that native plants and the pollen and nectar they produce are available to sustain the full diversity of native bee species on national public lands; to provide scientific and management information to public land managers on native bees and the biological communities they depend upon; and publicly advocate for native bees.
The honey bee (Apis mellifera) is an import from Europe. The placement of honey bee hives on public lands can bring millions of these non-native bees into the territories of native bees. The honey bees outcompete the native bees for pollen and nectar, and transmit diseases to the native bees. Rare or uncommon plants may have difficulty reproducing if they are pollinated by a specialized native bee that has been reduced or eliminated by the presence of honey bees. Honey bee apiaries (groups of hives) should not be permitted on public lands.
The work of Project Eleven Hundred began in 2018 when a retired bee biologist (Vince Tepedino) contacted Mary O’Brien, then Utah Forests Program Director for Grand Canyon Trust. He was alarmed that the nation’s largest honey bee company (Adee Honey Farms, headquartered in South Dakota) had requested a US Forest Service permit to park 4,900 honey bee hives for several months on the Manti-La Sal National Forest in central Utah. Mary’s masters and doctorate are in pollination biology. She understood how devastating the Adee Honey apiaries would be to native bees, and began working with the Center for Biological Diversity to prevent the issuance of that permit.
In 2020, Project Eleven Hundred was established as a nonprofit organization to focus on ending the permitting of apiaries on national public lands; and to ensure that native flowers, pollen, nectar, and habitats are available on these lands to support the lands’ full diversity of native bees.
NEWS + NOTES ON NATIVE BEES
MASTER POLLINATION RESEARCH
By Two Project Eleven Hundred Board Members
Project Eleven Hundred Board Secretary Ellie Stevenson and Board Treasurer Thomas Meinzen have finished their field work and will complete masters degrees by Summer 2023 – and they’re both studying pollinators!
Ellie is at Northern Arizona University studying the effects of livestock grazing on pollinator habitat. Her research focuses on changes in pollinator feeding and nesting resources over the past 15 years, at both grazed and ungrazed sites across public land on the Kaibab Plateau. With more than 250 million acres of USFS and BLM lands permitted for grazing, impacts to pollinators and the ecosystem functions they support could be incredibly widespread. Assessing how livestock grazing affects pollinator habitat can help inform land management practices, protect pollinator populations that are already showing widespread declines, and support biodiversity conservation in rangeland ecosystems.
Thomas is at Montana State University studying roadside pollinator ecology and bee and butterfly conservation on Idaho's Snake River Plain. His research project investigates how highway class, NDVI (a measure of greenness collected by satellite), and floral resources affect pollinator community distribution in southern Idaho, with the goal of improving roadside management to support bees and butterflies, including monarchs. He is also assessing roadside milkweed distribution to support monarch conservation efforts and advising the Idaho Transportation Department on roadside management strategies to benefit pollinators. With an estimated 17 million acres of roadside lands managed by Transportation Departments across the U.S., this research can help support pollinator populations nationwide, especially in agricultural and developed landscapes where pollinator habitat is scarce.
IT'S TIME TO GO TO NEW MEXICO
Trailing ever so slightly behind Utah with its 1,100 native bee species is New Mexico with its similarly astounding 1,000 native bee species. And so we’re going there in 2023. While the Colorado Plateau was the initial focus of Project Eleven Hundred and northwestern New Mexico is on the Colorado Plateau, we have not previously taken on the tasks of (1) locating all honey bee apiary permits on BLM and Forest Service lands in New Mexico and (2) communicating with all BLM Field Office Managers and Forest Service District Rangers in New Mexico about the threats honey bee apiaries pose to native bees. It’s past time to do so, and Ellie Stevenson, newly joining us as Program Associate, will take the lead for New Mexico outreach. Just as we’ve included all of Utah and Arizona, and not just the Colorado Plateau portions of those two states in our program, so we will include all of New Mexico, and not just the northwestern portion of the state that is on the Colorado Plateau. After all, the native bees in New Mexico don’t know whether they’re on the Colorado Plateau, up in the Rocky Mountains or out on the Great Plains!
Photo: © bbarber
Cockerell's bumble bee, found only in the White Mountains of New Mexico, has the smallest known range of any bumble bee in the world: less than 300 square miles.