No more ‘No Mow May’ in Mankato

The latest development in Mankato’s “No Mow May” campaign has got to sting those who signed up for the trendy effort to save bees. After two years of encouraging residents to let their lawns go for a month to preserve habitat for pollinators, the city has put them on notice. Anyone who lets their lawn go too far from now on will be ticketed, bee lover or not, according to the Free Press.

Following Mankato’s two-year run of “No Mow May” waivers, residents who allow the grass in their yards to grow too tall this growing season will be in violation of a city ordinance.

Grass grown to heights of more than 12 inches will be in violation of the mowing order.

Despite the program’s good intentions, it turns out the grass in most lawns does little to further the bees’ cause. In short, it makes lousy habitat for pollinators, no matter how high residents let the grass grow.

In a news release, the city said that while research has shown some benefits of “No Mow May,” they are limited for pollinators. Most Minnesota lawns consist of turfgrass, which provides little to no resources for pollinators. Only lawns that contain low-growing flowering plants, such as dandelions or Dutch white clover, can provide nectar and pollen to a wide range of pollinators, the release said.

“No Mow May” remains on the city calendar next door in North Mankato. But Owatonna dumped the campaign last year due to lack of interest and dozens of complaints called in about lawns out of compliance, according to the People’s Press.

Councilor Doug Voss said, due to the lack of interest from the general public, it is “hardly worth the fight” to deal with the calls people are making to report those they thought were breaking the ordinance. Hoffman said it could be as simple as educating the public thoroughly, and that he didn’t feel rescinding the tall grass ordinance would actually create any more work for the city — just delay it by a month.

Councilor Nate Dotson was in favor of having the city attorney write up the short resolution and have it ready for a vote at the next City Council meeting, specifically because it is at “no cost” to the city to make this decision, but the overall consensus of the rest of the council was to skip it, again citing the “lack of interest” from the public.

Not that Mankato has given up on encouraging residents to do what they can to make a difference.

The city offers the following “Bee a Good Pollen-aider” tips:

• Create habitat: Plant pollinator-friendly flowers, shrubs and/or trees in your yard/patio. A single flowering tree can provide as much forage for pollinators as a whole garden.

In fact, it appears bees nationwide have made quite a comeback already, according to the Washington Post.

After almost two decades of relentless colony collapse coverage and years of grieving suspiciously clean windshields, we were stunned to run the numbers on the new Census of Agriculture (otherwise known as that wonderful time every five years where the government counts all the llamas): America’s honeybee population has rocketed to an all-time high.

We’ve added almost a million bee colonies in the past five years. We now have 3.8 million, the census shows. Since 2007, the first census after alarming bee die-offs began in 2006, the honeybee has been the fastest-growing livestock segment in the country! And that doesn’t count feral honeybees, which may outnumber their captive cousins several times over.

That reality should help contain the buzz over the end of “No Mow May” in Mankato.