JoAnne Skelly: Be kind to bees – ‘No Mow May’

JoAnne Skelly

JoAnne Skelly

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Carson City is a Bee City USA affiliate, the first in Nevada. Bee Cities are a part of The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

“Bee City USA’s mission is to galvanize communities to sustain pollinators by providing them with healthy habitat, rich in a variety of native plants and free to nearly free of pesticides.” The work of pollinators such as honeybees, bumble bees, butterflies, moths, bats, hummingbirds and others is critical to our food supply.

Bee City USA is promoting “No Mow May” suggesting we mow every two to three weeks rather than weekly. This will increase the availability of lawn flowers that can provide food for newly-emerging native bees.

Adding extra flowers at this time of year is critical to their survival because ornamental flowers may not yet be blooming in our landscapes. When we do mow, they tell us to raise the mowing height to three inches or more in order to miss low-growing lawn flowers.

Besides benefitting pollinators, this taller mowing height also increases water efficiency and turf health overall. A “No Mow May” cycle creates a better habitat for pollinators too.

In an ideal pollinator world, we would replace our lawns with a meadow of diverse plant species, rather than the grass monoculture of a traditionally maintained non-native lawn.

Since meadows may not be a realistic option at every home, perhaps we can find a compromise by reducing our lawn size while increasing the number of plants, especially native plants, attractive to pollinators throughout our yard. For a list of pollinator-friendly plants, go to

Remember that commonly used lawn and garden pesticides, including insecticides, herbicides, and even fungicides are generally harmful to pollinators. Avoiding their use is key to creating a healthy pollinator habitat.

Upcoming bee-friendly events in May for Carson City’s own Bee City USA are:

• May 11 – 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Greenhouse Project Mother’s Day Plant Sale, 1111 N. Saliman Road. Vegetable and flower plants will be available. Bee City will be there to share pollinator information.

• May 18 – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Carson City Parks and Recreation’s Kids to Park Day at Mills Park, 1111 E. William St. The Bee City booth will include honey sticks, seed pack giveaways, an educational game, coloring and writing for kids. Come play the bee pollinator game and learn about pollination!

• May 18 – Douglas County Cooperative Extension’s Native Plant Sale at Riverfork Ranch, 381 Genoa Lane in Douglas County. There will be a good selection of native plants for the area. Pollinator Week is June 17-23.

JoAnne Skelly is Associate Professor & Extension Educator Emerita University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. Email 


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