BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – A woman is on a crusade to save native bees in Colorado. Danielle Bilot says she has a way of protecting the pollinators that hasn’t been tried anywhere else in the country.

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There are approximately 950 types of native bees in Colorado, and they pollinate more than just flowers — they also pollinate a lot of the food we eat. As development continues across Colorado and natural areas are altered, the threat to the bees rises.

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With help from students in a class she teaches at the University of Colorado, plus a grant from the university, Bilot is “bee-utifying” grassy areas beside parking lots that are essentially food deserts for pollinators. She’s replacing grass with native plants. Those are the only kind that attract native bees.

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“It’s less to mow. It requires way less water, too. A lawn you have to require all the time,” Bilot said. “After these plants are grown in, after two years we can stop irrigating them.”

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It’s happening at six parking lots around Boulder over a two year period.

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“We are not changing the amount of available parking in your parking lot or your city. We are just saying along your lawn stretches … or your other green space stretches that are already existing, use better plants,” she said.

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Bilot is chief of the University of Colorado Bee Club and is tracking the bee activity at the lots she’s working next to. If the pilot program expands the native bee population, she plans to ask Boulder City Council to require that 10% to 20% of all parking lot greenspace and grassy frontage areas next to major streets be made up of native plants.

“Just from the past 24 hours, we’ve seen six or seven visibly different native bee species on the property already,” she told CBS4 Bilot at one of her work sites. “So, we haven’t event planted all the (native plants) yet and they’re already coming.”

Bilot also plans to meet with Denver city officials next month.

Additional Resources

– Learn more about how you can join CU’s Bee Club at cubeeclub.org.

– If you’re interested in planting native plants on your property to attract native bees, Colorado company BBB Seed (bbbseed.com) recommends Beebalm, Goldenrod, Gallardia, Colorado aster, Rocky Mountain penstemon, blue flax or coreopsis.

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