You’ve probably heard that bees are in trouble. It seems to be a topic that’s popping up everywhere. There have been several recent documentaries focused on the collapse of honeybee populations; recent media concerning native North American bee species includes this great video by the New York Times. Scientists have linked many factors to the decline in native bee populations including pesticides, parasites, lack of habitat, lack of flowers, climate change, the spread of invasive species, and the complex interaction between these pressures.
You’d better Bee-LEAF we want to help!
LEAF has teamed up with Friends of the Earth and Ontario Power Generation to help improve city life for native bees. Throughout the year we’ll be hosting events that feature native bees and their connection to our urban forest - stay tuned!
Our first step was to create a new Native Bee Kit – an easy way for anyone to create a mini-bee habitat right in your own back or front yard. Here are a couple of my favourite species included in the kit:
Common snowberry: This is a beautiful shrub loved by gardeners and bees alike. The flowers provide a late spring/early summer nectar and pollen source for bees and other insects. A great bonus is that snowberries also provide food for birds and wildlife.
Canada wild rye: Aside from its potential for making whiskey, Canada wild rye is also an important plant for our native bees. Grasses provide important shelter and habitat for solitary bees and while I’m no grass connoisseur, I personally think this species is lovely.
Bee a part of the solution!
Our kits come in two sizes; large ($235 - covers around 55 square feet of garden space and includes 52 perennials and 4 shrubs) and small ($125 - covers around 25 square feet of garden space and includes 22 perennials and 2 shrubs). All kits come with sample garden designs , mulch, and tips to ensure your garden succeeds and provides great habitat for our native bees. Contact us today to place an order for this spring!
Fun fact! The aggressive visitors to your picnic or barbeque are often wasps, not bees! What’s the difference you ask? Erin can tell you. Native bees are even less likely than honeybees to sting you and many of our native bees have stingers so small they can’t puncture human skin!
Jacqueline Hamilton is LEAF’s Residential Planting Program Coordinator.