What’s the buzz about bees?

While you may not love having a bee buzzing around your head as you enjoy the outdoors, these little critters have earned some respect over the past few years. News stories pointing to their role in putting food on our tables has led to a change in attitudes as it’s now recognized that honey bees are a critical piece of our agricultural system. According to Bees Matter, a partnership of agricultural organizations with a vested interest in pollinator health, one out of every three bites of what we eat is made possible by honey bees.

But contrary to some news stories, Canada’s honey bees are doing alright. The number of beekeepers and honey bee hives is indeed increasing in Canada, even though there have been seasonal bee hive losses.

That doesn’t mean that we don’t have to continue to do our part to help the honey bee population thrive. Like humans, honey bees need adequate food and nutrition. To help keep healthy over the winter, honey bees need to collect plenty of good sources of nectar and pollen from flowers during the warmer months.

But here’s a key point to consider: not all flowers are to the honey bees liking. Those which are native to Canada are the fare of choice for honey bees. For each of us who can do so, planting the right seeds and creating a pollinator friendly garden can add up to a major contribution in helping keep Canadian honey bees healthy. And you don’t have to have a backyard to plant seeds. Balconies and patios can fit the bill.

Notice I said the right seeds. There are programs in place where packets of wildflower seeds are being distributed solely as a gesture to help nurture our honey bees. The problem is that if the wildflowers are not native to our region, then they’re of no benefit to the bees. Add in the fact that some of these wildflowers, when planted here in Canada, become invasive species, we’re certainly not helping the environment and in fact, we’re harming it.

You can get a free seed kit, containing native wildflower seeds, from Bees Matter. Simply request it online and get planting!

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Categories: Food Security

Author:Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian and writer.

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