2017-08-10 / Schools

T.O an official ‘Bee City’ after efforts by Bridges school student

By Angela Swartz
Special to the Acorn

POLLINATOR AWARENESS—At left, Aidan Del Bosque, a student at Bridges Charter School in Thousand Oaks, works on a “bee condo” as part of a school project. Above, the city’s new Bee City USA sign. POLLINATOR AWARENESS—At left, Aidan Del Bosque, a student at Bridges Charter School in Thousand Oaks, works on a “bee condo” as part of a school project. Above, the city’s new Bee City USA sign. As 8-year-old Aidan Del Bosque sits down to breakfast, he scans the food on his plate: waffles, mixed fruit and orange juice. Most of his meal was produced with the help of bees, a species at increased risk from habitat loss and pesticides.

Aidan learned about the growing threat to the pollinators last year when he was in first grade at Bridges Charter School in Thousand Oaks and decided to do something about it.

Eighteen months later, the Simi Valley resident’s dream has become a “bee-ality.”

With Aidan’s encouragement, Thousand Oaks has become the first city in Southern California to be named an official Bee City. As such, it meets the requirements set forth by the Bee City USA association for providing a sustainable environment for the insects.

On July 11, Aidan was recognized in front of friends and family during a Thousand Oaks City Council meeting for his efforts on behalf of the local bee population.

“It felt really good to . . . let more people know about the importance of bees,” Aidan said.

School project

During the second half of first grade, Aidan and his classmates were assigned to do a Kids Who Care project by his teacher Marsi Gore. Students could “do whatever they wanted as long as they helped their community,” Gore said.

Aidan, with the help of his moms, Monika and Allix Wee, and 14-year-old brother, Sasha, built a bee condo.

Over the span of several weekends in spring 2016, the family sawed wood, collected pine cones and nailed boards together. When the condo was complete, Aidan presented it to his class along with a PowerPoint presentation on the importance of bees.

As bees’ habitats continue to disappear, the condo provides wild bees with a home and promotes the pollination of local plants. Aidan drilled holes of different sizes to provide adequate living space to a variety of bee species.

The condo now sits in the Bridges school garden.

But Aidan didn’t stop there. While researching bee condos, he learned about the Bee City USA program, and in June of last year he wrote to Thousand Oaks City Councilmember Joel Price to encourage him to establish Thousand Oaks as a Bee City.

Becoming a Bee City

While the family was proud of Aidan’s efforts, they didn’t think the letter would receive a response.

But it was filtered through city officials and eventually forwarded to Garrett Crawford, supervisor of landscape maintenance, who realized the city already met most of the Bee City requirements. For starters, T.O. has sufficient open space and provides native plants that are beneficial to the insects.

“We pretty much do all the stuff they were asking. It was just finalizing some reports and changing a few things,” Crawford said.

One of those things was eliminating the use of pesticides containing neonicotinoid, a chemical that’s harmful to bees. The city also had to change its policy regarding a pesticide known as Pointer and Safari so that crews would only spray it where bees were not present.

Lastly, officials held a community meeting Feb. 22 to spread awareness about pollinators. Landscape maintenance worked with a local Boy Scout troop to build a new pollinator garden in April in front of the Grant Brimhall Library.

Later in June, Crawford wrote a letter to Aidan, congratulating him on his accomplishment and inviting him to the July 11 meeting to receive a commendation.

“I’m glad I could make a difference. I want to do it to other cities like Moorpark, Camarillo and Simi Valley,” Aidan said.

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