Inver Hills Community College in Inver Grove Heights debuted a new mascot this winter — Bo the Bee, a pure green sweat bee (Augochlora pura) that, according to campus lore, makes its home in the Inver Hills Community Garden and Orchard. According to Inver Hills' website, the pure green sweat bee is a medium-sized, solitary, metallic green bee that is common in much of the state.

The college's athletic teams were called the Giants years ago. In 2023, the school's general mascot became the Bees.

"When we decided to come forward with the mascot, the bee was one of the choices," said Lisé Freking, spokeswoman for Inver Hills Community College. "The bee came out on top."

Inver Hills students voted on the new mascot's name and Bo was the top choice, followed by Buzz and Polly, according to the website. Bo was named after Tom "Bo" Johnson, a former student and employee who is currently a part of the Inver Hills Alumni Association.

The college was named Minnesota's first "Bee Campus USA", a designation made by the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, in 2019. The group is named after the Xerces blue butterfly, the first butterfly known to have gone extinct in North America due to human activity. It lived in California sand dunes and was last seen in the 1940s, according to the society. Joining the program requires a college to commit to improving its campus to support pollinators.

According to Freking, the campus has a broader commitment to bees. There's a "Bees Knees Committee" — a cross-departmental working group that reviews the requirements for being re-certified as a "Bee Campus USA" and also works to create a campus habitat plan for pollinators.