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 Colorado Plateau public lands. We provide scientific information to public land managers, and publicly advocate for the health of native bees and the biological communities they live in.
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
Artist Molly Burchfield is continuing with her 12-painting series for Project Eleven Hundred. Each painting illustrates a different challenge native bees face from permitting of honey bee apiaries on public lands. In this painting, Jones’ cycladenia (Cyladenia humilis var. jonesii) is shown in its typical, very steep habitat in a particular geological layer (Moenkopi) and soil. Few other plant species grow in this particular soil. Jones’cyladenia is endemic to southeastern Utah and one set of
populations just below Utah’s border in northern Arizona. Federally listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, one of Jones’ cyladenia’s challenges appears to be lack of pollinators and resulting low seed set. There is concern that perhaps a pollinator that specialized on visiting cycladenia may have been lost.
The risk from honey bee apiaries to uncommon, specialized pollinators can translate into risk for rare plants, which tend not to be visited by honey bees.
In May 2021, Project Eleven Hundred sent two maps to each Forest Service District Ranger and Forest Supervisor and BLM Field Manager on the Colorado Plateau: (1) apiary permits map and (2) either the Forest Service sensitive species map or BLM sensitive species map. We want to let these land managers know (a) how the apiary status on their unit fits into the larger picture of apiaries on federal lands on the Colorado Plateau; and (b) the sensitive plant and pollinator species that could be put at risk with honey bee apiary permits on the lands they manage.
There are approximately 1,100 native bee species in Utah, and an average of 1,100 native bee species among the four Colorado Plateau states (Arizona leads with 1,300 species).