Bee & Butterfly Habitat Initiative

Bee and Butterfly HabitatBee populations in North America and throughout the world have been in dramatic decline for the past several years. It is impossible to overestimate just how valuable bees and other pollinators are to our food supply and to biodiversity in general. Our mission is to do whatever we can to provide sanctuary and support to our pollinator species throughout our community.

The Issue:

Our native wild bees, along with honeybees across North America, are literally disappearing in mass numbers. Some species have disappeared entirely, and others are listed as threatened or endangered.

In Ontario, the winter of 2007 saw the province’s 150-250 apiarists lose about 23,000 of their 76,000 hives, representing a $5 million dollar setback in honey production alone. Our native solitary bees (there are over 400 species in Ontario) are in similar decline.

The Causes:

  • Nutritional deficiencies from loss of natural habitat and modified or hybridized plants
  • The effects of migratory beekeeping practices (transportation and confinement of bees, overcrowding)
  • The effects of known, and possibly unknown, parasitic mites
  • A lack of genetic diversity among breeding stock
  • Monocultural, chemical-dependent food growing practices
  • The effects of systemic and other pesticides used in farming and horticulture industries, and in our own lawns and gardens

The Implications:

Over ONE THIRD of the food we eat is, to a greater or lesser extent, dependent on bees for pollination and reproduction. The value of food crops in North America assisted by, or dependent on, pollinator species is valued at close to $20 billion .

If you’ve ever enjoyed one of these foods, a bee has been at work. An asterisk* indicates foods where bee pollination is essential:

Onion, Celery, Beet, Mustard, Rapeseed, Turnip*, Canola*, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Chestnut, Watermelon*, Coriander*, Cantaloupe*, Cucumber*, Squash*, Pumpkin*, Cardamom*, Buckwheat*, Fennel*, Strawberry, Soybean, Apple*, Alfalfa, Avocado*, Beans, Apricot*, Cherry*, Plum*, Almond*, Peach*, Pear*, Currant, Raspberry*, Elderberry, Eggplant, Blueberry*

The Opportunities:

Here are the Four Pillars of our initiative:

  1. Provide Sanctuary by making habitat-supportive choices in our gardening practices and plant selection.
  2. Outreach by advocating, encouraging and helping others to develop supportive habitat for pollinators.
  3. Explore new commercial opportunities for local businesses arising from our initiative.
  4. Brand our municipality as a champion for biodiversity and habitat development and protection.

Providing Sanctuary:

Here’s what you can do:

  • Use native plants in your garden. These provide high-quality nutrients for pollinator species.
  • Select a variety of plants that bloom at different times.
  • Seed larger areas with our specially developed meadow seed mix.
  • Reduce or eliminate lawn areas, which are dependent on polluting nutrients, pesticides and machinery to maintain. Lawns are non-native grasses that contribute nothing to sustain pollinator species.
  • Eliminate the use of pesticides. Studies now show that even if pesticides do not kill pollinators on contact, they interfere with the insects’ ability to navigate and gather food.
  • Develop good cultural practices that will do far more than any chemicals can to make your garden healthy and beautiful. (Examples: select native plants, encourage biodiversity, plant the right plant in the right place, prune correctly, remove and dispose of diseased plant parts, etc.).

Our most basic obligation is to honour the earth, and to sustain, as far as we are able, those same creative activities that brought forth the mountains and rivers and valleys, the forests, the plains, the blossoming flowers, the singing birds, the turtles and the fish in the sea, and all the constituent members of our earth community.
Thomas Berry

For more information, assistance, plant lists, and opportunities to be a part of this initiative, please contact any of the following:

Transition Meaford:
www.transitionmeaford.org

Thomas Dean Landscape Design:
www.thomasdean.ca

See our demo garden at The Market at The Barn Co-operative: on Hwy 26, a few km East of Meaford.