Urban Blight renewal is here to stay , but now we suffer from Native Bee Blight!

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Quad Cities, USA…an urban area where the Mississippi is divided by bridges and the only place it flows East and West….

We all know what urban blight is in our cities….When my husband and I graduated college and moved here in the 80’s the factories started shutting down, and a life people knew no longer existed. Over the years workers had to retrain and learn new jobs, and they moved on in life, but the factories sat for years and decayed. Parts of our urban area were filled with old buildings and weeds that covered places people use to frequent, however, ” urban blight” locally has changed over the years….

Great River Trails passes through industrial area of Rock Island, Illinois
Mckesson Lofts former 1914 warehouse in downtown Rock Island
I am very proud of the Quad Cities(Rock Island, Moline, Illinois + Davenport, Bettendorf, Iowa) because they have worked very hard to replace our urban blight with new life by converting them into beautiful housing, parks, apartments with rooftop gardens, or repaired older homes with new ones that people can afford. It takes time….. just like nature.
Here, is an example of how they are changing our downtown areas….there is more work to be done on both the Illinois and Iowa Quad cities sides, but progress is being made. I live in the Rock Island Urban Area, and are part of the “Quad” is making great progress!
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“Leaving downtown Moline, the trail stays up on the riverbank and crosses under the Centennial Bridge as you enter the city of Rock Island. Its industrial area dominates the landscape for most of the final 7.5 miles from Moline. This breaks open when you ride into Sunset Park, where a large marina and extensive river views provide a fitting end to this scenic trail.” taken from Great River Trail Description 2013

As I ride my bike past these former “Urban Blight” areas, I notice people biking, walking, skating, fishing, and socializing. Life is returning to our blighted areas,  but at the same time I am sad our old neighborhoods next to the city are not dealing with their “Native Bee Blight.” People still use chemicals on their lawns that hurt our native bees. Yes, we have new life being breathed into our old buildings, but our homes near the city need to make sure we include plants that help feed our native pollinators. Our native bees need our support to continue flourishing in our urban areas. Here, is an essential article on Native Bees being better pollinators than honeybees?

http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/2011/10/native-bees-are-better-pollinators-honeybees

Native Asters are great plants to help with Native Bee Blight
Native Asters are great plants to help with Native Bee Blight
I grow a variety of plants in our Urban Potager, but over the years I have been incorporating more plants that are bee friendly. I am not an extremist that feels you can only have native plants on your city lots, but it is essential that we do incorporate these plants. We have to make sure there is a source of blooming plants each season that will provide for our native bees.
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.A bee-friendly plant is easy to spot since they are usually humming with activity. This fall I noticed our asters and goldenrod were covered with a  variety of native bees.

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There were some I had never seen before in our garden.

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This little guy was just loaded with pollen he was finding it difficult to move….
If we all take the time, to observe and watch what native bees spend most of their time visiting, we can make an extra effort to incorporate more of those plants on our city lots each season! That should take care of our “Native Bee Blight” and just like our “Urban Blight”….over time things will change….