On September 6, 2018, our campus got the news that we are officially the first 4 year university in California (in addition to being the first in the CSU system) to receive the Bee Campus USA recognition! CSUCI is now one of 51 colleges and universities in the nation to achieve this esteemed acknowledgement. 

This past summer, several departments worked diligently and cohesively to ensure that CSUCI was adequately meeting all standards required to be certified as a Bee Campus. The primary contributors to the achievement of these goals were Ruben Alarcon, PhD. (Assistant Professor of Biology), Coleen Barsley (Sustainability and Operations Analyst), Jazmin Horvet (Student Assistant), Jason Hughes (Grounds Manager), Dr. Safa Khan (Chemistry Professor), Gina Matibag (Academic Support Analyst), Ricky Medrano (Gardening Specialist), and Lisa Noriega (Sustainability Student Assistant). CSUCI’s Bee Campus USA recognition would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of all of these individuals.

What does it mean to be a "Bee Campus"? 

The Bee Campus USA program - part of Bee City USA* - fosters dialogue to raise awareness about the role of pollinators by endorsing a set of commitments for campuses to create sustainable habitats for all pollinating species, who are vital to feeding our planet. The primary goals of the Bee Campus USA program are to raise awareness, enhance pollinator habitats, and celebrate campus achievements.

*Thousand Oaks and Santa Barbara are both Bee Cities USA!

Why protect pollinators?

  • 1 in every 3 bites of food we eat is the direct product of insect pollination
  • 90% of all wild plants and trees rely on pollinators for the survival of their species
  • Since “Colony Collapse Disorder” began in 2007, which resulted in the disappearance of thousands of honey bee colonies, multiple other pollinator species have begun to disappear or significantly decline
  • Honey bee populations are declining at a growing annual rate of 44%

What's the buzz at CSUCI?

The CSU Channel Islands (CI) campus is nestled in the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountain Range in Ventura County, California. We are located on the Oxnard Plain, which has rich soils, a favorable climate and a long growing season, making it a “hotspot” for agriculture. Our staple crops include strawberries and citrus – both of which are heavily dependent on the pollination services of our native insects and non-native honeybees.

We recognize that CI’s campus is in a prime location for providing a habitat for pollinators away from areas sprayed with pesticides and fungicides. For this reason, we would like to hold ourselves to the standards of Bee Campus USA’s certification to ensure we are doing our part in preserving our pollinating insects for present and future generations. At CI, we are committed to being an environmentally sustainable campus and we feel that providing food resources and habitat for native plants, animals, and pollinators alike is vital in realizing that goal.

How did we BEEcome a Bee Campus USA affiliate?

The Bee Campus USA program requires applicant educational institutions to make seven commitments in order to become an official Bee Campus USA.  Most of these commitments are already being fulfilled in the course of current operations:

1. Establish a Committee and Develop a Habitat Plan. Our Bee Campus USA committee consists of one faculty member, 3 staff members in Facilities Services, and the CI Bee Club as our student members.

CSUCI’s Pollinator Habitat Plan encompasses our campus-wide dedication to protecting pollinators and how we plan to implement measures to ensure their security. Our pest control provider, Orkin Pest Control, implements a specific Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plan for CSUCI that describes the measures taken to avoid the use of broad-spectrum insecticides. The IPM Plan serves as an integral component of our Habitat Plan. The Habitat Plan also includes a list of native plant species that will comprise the habitats that pollinators utilize on our campus.

2. Host Awareness Event(s). CSUCI holds an Arbor Day event every year, usually overlapping with campus Earth Day and Earth Week celebrations. Arbor Day and Earth Day observance events include activities such as native plant and tree planting, sustainability trivia tree giveaway, campus tree tours, food and beverages, tabling opportunities for various sustainability-centered clubs, musical performances, and campus sustainability fact tables and presentations. Starting this  academic year, our new CI Bee Club will be tabling at these events (and more) to raise campus awareness of the dangers that threaten pollinators and ways in which we can do our part to minimize these threats and promote healthy pollinator habitats collectively as a campus.

3. Sponsor and Track Student Service-Learning Projects to Enhance Pollinator Habitats. In the Spring 2018 semester, a group of students from Dr. Safa Khan’s Energy and Society course (CHEM 344) collaborated with Grounds Crew staff to install a sustainable pollinator garden on the second floor of CSUCI’s newest science building - Sierra Hall. Pollinator gardens promote a healthy ecosystem and attract a diversity of pollinators such as bees, butterflies and moths. Designed by Garden Specialists Ricky Medrano and Juan Cardenas, it features over 30 species of succulents and drought-tolerant plants that are planted in native clay soil, which helps to conserve water and maintenance. As these plants flower in the Fall, they provide a food resource outside of spring bloom ‘booms’ in a time that would normally be a ‘bust’.

4. Offer Pollinator-Focused Courses and/or Workshops. CSUCI offers an upper-division Bee Biology course (BIOL 475) taught by Professor Ruben Alarcon, along with a required lab component. This course discusses the evolution and diversity of bees in the context of their morphology, behavior, and co-evolutionary relationships with plants. The honey bee is used as a model for understanding bee development, nutrition, physiology, and reproduction. Additionally, CSUCI's Extended University offers an Integrated Pest Management course (BIOL 472) which explores the ecological principles of pest management. The major strategies for controlling pests, including the use of natural predators, cultural practices and chemical applications, are discussed, and students examine the current pest management practices of local agricultural systems. 

5. Post Signage to Educate Campus and Broader Community. The designing of informational signage is in the works though Dr. Safa Khan's classes with the support of Gina Matibag. These will likely be installed at our pollinator gardens in the Spring of 2019. These signs explain what a pollinator is, the role of the pollinator gardens on our campus, what factors perpetrate the decline and endangerment of these vital species, as well as data and statistics that demonstrate the importance of pollinators on our campus and in society.

6. Maintain a Web Presence to Share Bee Campus USA News and Activities. You are here. Welcome!

7. Annually Apply for Renewal. We recognize that CSUCI is the perfect place for thriving pollinator habitats, and we see the immense value in being certified as an official Bee Campus for this reason. Just as we do with Tree Campus, we will apply for Bee Campus renewal every year. We see such value in this recognition and know that our caring students, faculty and staff and our ideal climate will allow for bees and other pollinators to find a “safe haven” here at CSUCI.