Plant for pollinators this spring

Canada has seen a 25 per cent decline in native bee populations

Linda Geggie is the executive director with the Capital Region Food and Agriculture Initiatives Roundtable and can be reached at lgeggie@cfair.ca.

One-third of the food we eat depends on pollination. Let that sink in. If we want to eat, we need pollinators. It might not betop of mind when we think about our food security here in Saanich, but the little critters that transfer pollen from one plantto another are vital to our survival.

Most people think about honey bees when they consider pollinators. There has been growing worry over the increasing lossof honey bee populations on the Island due to a combination of the use of pesticides, lack of forage and the spread of theVarroa mite, a deadly pest to the honey bee. While this is a concern, the honey bee is actually not native to North America.They are important pollinators, but are quite lightweights in comparison to the heavy lifting done by our native pollinators.

The good news is that there are over 20,000 kinds of bees that undertake crop pollination. The bad news is that we are alsoseeing a huge drop in these native bee populations as well. Since we started studying native bees we have seen a 37 percent decline in Europe, and about a 25 per cent decline in Canada and the U.S.

It is thought that habitat loss, climate change, invasive plants and diseases are affecting native bees. This loss is leading topollination problems across the globe, from California to China to Canada.

The total economic value of insect pollination worldwide is estimated to be over $200 billion. Understandably there issubstantial investment in efforts to replicate pollinator functions by bee-bots and self-pollinating crops. One wonders willthe loss of pollinators ultimately be the decline of humans?

Luckily for us a big gun in pollinator research and education has landed in our region. Dr. Lora Morandin from PollinatorPartnership Canada is here. In February she led a workshop at the Saanich Fairgrounds that was inundated with 140concerned people who wanted to learn more about pollinators and what we can do locally to build habitat and grow theirpopulation.

“In my new position as Western Canada program manager, I am excited to be working on pollinator conservation with thecommunity,” said Morandin. “Through research, education, habitat creation, policy development and most importantlycollaborating, we can protect our pollinators and help ensure healthy ecosystems and sustainable food production.”

Dr. Morandin is part of a newly forming working group on pollinators in the region that is bringing together farmers,growers and local organizations to amp up pollinator action. The beauty of tackling this challenge is that we can all dosomething right now.

Whether you are a farmer of many acres or a gardener with a small space, you can increase the number of pollinators inSaanich by choosing plants that provide essential habitat for bees, butterflies, moths, beetles and hummingbirds.

There are some really easy care and beautiful native (and edible) plants and flowers that assist pollinators. Blue, violet,white and yellow flowers are best, and having a range of plants that bloom in succession from March to October is key. Youcan ask for info about great wildflower and plant seed mixes at your local garden store and there is also lots moreinformation and technical guides available for free on-line at www.pollinatorpartnership.ca.

For some very local info I highly recommend a new book out called Resilient Gardens 2017 that is all about pollinators withsome great charts showing native plants that are easy to grow and care for, by local garden guru Linda Gilkeson.

This spring choose your seeds and plants with pollinators in mind. For more information and to get in touch with a growingpollinator network, contact Dr.Lora Morandin at lm@pollinator.org.

Linda Geggie is the executive director with the Capital Region Food and Agriculture Initiatives Roundtable and can bereached at lgeggie@cfair.ca.

 

Just Posted

Leeroy Stagger to bring edgier new sound to the Capital Ballroom

Award-winning folk artist will highlight new album, Strange Path, at Oct. 20 show

Ginormous 10-foot dragon towers over Saanich yard

Artist Dan Iochelli spent seven years crafting the metal beast

Popular corn maze at North Saanich’s Pendray Farms out of operation

No Halloween-themed activities taking place this year at local farm

Return of the undead: Victoria Zombie Walk hits the streets

Hundreds of zombies expected for annual event Oct. 26 in Centennial Square

Investigation into cause of Saanich structure fire underway

The Friday morning fire left contents of the home ‘beyond repair,’ says a Saanich firefighter

VIDEO: Explosion, fire sends woman running from Saanich home

Heavy smoke in the area, crews on scene

Jack’s Devils beat Quinn’s Canucks 1-0 in NHL brother battle

New Jersey youngster scores first career goal against Vancouver

Two charged after owner’s wild ride through Kamloops in his stolen truck

Crystal Rae Dorrington, 37, and Derrick Ronald Pearson, 32, facing multiple charges

Judge orders credit union’s bank records for Kelowna social worker facing theft allegations

The man is accused of negligence, breach of contract, fraud and a conspiracy with Interior Savings

Leaders pour it on with rallies, boosts for candidates as campaign reaches peak

The federal election campaign has reached a crescendo

Allegations of racism lead to ministry investigation at Vancouver private school

St. George’s School was contacted over what the school describes as ‘deeply offensive behaviour online’

Not a political question: Thunberg calls for climate action in Alberta

Edmonton police estimated the size of the crowd at about 4,000

Zantac, the over-the-counter heartburn drug, pulled in Canada, U.S.

Health Canada also investigates possible carcinogen in some ranitidine drugs

B.C. public safety minister says cannabis edibles not in stores til January

Mike Farnworth says he wants regional issues considered when it comes to licensing

Most Read