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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 replaced 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 our 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 important 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….

Written by Robbie

M.S. Education, , Organic Gardener, soil + nature lover, former modern dancer

8 comments

  1. There’s a holly bush outside of the garage door that I am not a fan of. It’s thorny. It needs hedging twice a year or more. It’s a little drab. But once a year, when nothing at all on my street is blooming, the holly bush has exploded in pungent fragrance almost immediately followed by a constant roar of bzzzzzzz. And so the bush stays, having earned its keep.

    1. I so agree! I love those plants that hum when you walk by them during the different seasons. Fall seems to be the most active here and I just love to sit out there and listen too all that humming!

    1. Hi Lrong,
      It is interesting how all the cities are changing. Davenport which is across the river has made some beautiful changes in their downtown. They have one of the first year round farmers markets (of it’s type) in the Midwest which is in the old freight house. Really neat how they have transformed their downtown. I have not biked over there this year, but it is quite nice. I was thinking about the bees yesterday as I was outside, and how I need to put a few more asters in my yard!

  2. I am fortunate to have a little more space and I have planted to support pollinators, butterfly’s, and birds. I been watching the bee population decline over the past several years and I am very, very concerned.

    1. I feel the same way:-)( so great you support the pollinators), in fact, I am trying to put more bee friendly plants in for next year. I will be starting some from seed this January to tuck into our landscape and to share with others. I sure hope people wake up and start thinking about where they can squeeze a few plants in on their property to feed our pollinators. I also have people in my neighborhood collecting seed from my front yard. Today an elderly gentleman that walks by every day told me he would be by tomorrow to collect seed for his yard! I was thrilled:-)

  3. Robbie, I’m going to write again about bees in the next few weeks (OK, maybe after harvest!) because I absolutely agree with you–bees are soooo important (& adorable– as your lovely pix show!) Thx for sharing!!!

    1. I just read another article (last night) about how our grocery store shelves will be empty of certain foods our bees pollinate! I think our best bet is to start putting out plants that our native bees frequent. I get a kick out of them sleeping inside flowers. I sometimes envy their life of working in the garden and sleeping in the flowers:-) I will be taking more photos of them this next year since I think people need to see them and realize what beautiful, and unsung heroes they truly are in our life

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