APPLETON, Wis. (NBC 26) — For the third straight year, Joan Ribbons won't mow her lawn for an entire month.
"I chose to participate because I'm an environmentalist and [I've] been aware of the plight of the bees because I'm a beekeeper too," the Appleton resident said.
She's talking about No Mow May, an initiative to let grass grow to help pollinators. It started in the U.K., and Appleton was the first city in the United States to join the effort back in 2020.
"If we let resources come to flower, then our pollinators that are coming out of hibernation will have plenty of food to eat and get off on the right foot," Lawrence University Assistant Professor of Biology Israel Del Toro said.
At least 25 other cities are now taking part.
"The first year that we participated in No Mow May, we actually found a five-fold increase in abundance of bees in No Mow May lawns relative to mowed areas," Del Toro said.
In Northeast Wisconsin, other cities like Green Bay, De Pere, Oshkosh and the Village of Egg Harbor won't fine participating residents throughout the month.
"Not everybody's totally comfortable with the idea of letting their lawns grow to a couple-feet high over the course of the month," Del Toro said.
The researcher spent much of his Friday handing out signs to Appleton residents who plan on participating in No Mow May.
"Last year alone, we also found that the rusty patched bumblebee made it into town," Del Toro said. "That's a threatened and endangered species that we can now provide food and forage for."
Whether it's planting natives or reducing chemical usage, Del Toro says there are alternative ways to assist during No Mow May.
"For the whole month, you can just let things come to flower, dandelions, clover, mint," he said. "All of those things are great foraging resources for our bees."