Council chambers was buzzing with talk of a Bee City designation for the City of Kawartha Lakes today.
Susan Blayney, member of the kawartha Lakes Environmental Advisory Committee and Shelly Candel, director of Bee City Canada made their pitch to councillors on the benefits of becoming a Bee City. The goal is to help raise the profile of the pollinator protection movement in Canada.
Becoming a Bee City means you are part of a North American movement to support pollinator protection. Bee City communities support collaboration and establish and maintain healthy pollinator habitat within the municipality while encouraging conversations about how to grow local healthy food and the importance of biodiversity. It also starts a dialogue about how to reduce and eliminate the chemicals that are harmful to pollinators.
Pollination is the vital first step in a plant process that leads to seed formation and food production, if the plant is one that produces food. Plants can’t move, so they rely on wind or water, or animals (mainly insects) called pollinators, to transfer pollen from the male parts of flowers to the female parts of flowers.
Pollinators are necessary for three-quarters of our major food crops according to the Colleges of Agricultural Sciences. The majority of crops that we like most to eat and provide most of our nutrition such as fruits, vegetables, and nuts use animal/insect pollination. A study done for the Royal Society says without these pollinators, our diets would be severely limited, and it would be more difficult to acquire the variety of vitamins and minerals that we need to stay healthy.
Butterflies, beetles, flies, bats, hummingbirds and bee’s are just a few of the insect/animal pollinators. In recent years the bee population has been declining dramatically. Pesticides, herbicides and fungicides can have drastic effects on pollinating insects. Climate change is affecting the availability of resources for pollinators and we have spread many pests and diseases around to managed and wild bees. Many species of wild bees, butterflies and other insects/animals that pollinate plants are moving toward extinction, a United Nations scientific mega-report warned in 2016.
Becoming a Bee City would mean that Kawartha Lakes is a leader in the issue of saving the bees according to Susan Blayney. “If done now we can be one of the first cities in Canada.” Toronto, Chestermere, Kamloops, T’it’q’et, Stratford and Campbellton are the others.
Gaining a Bee City designation is free to the municipality and can benefit it as well as the pollinators according to Blayney. By selecting pollinator friendly plants including native trees, shrubs, vines and grasses, along with herbs and vegetables, creates beauty while providing food for wildlife and humans too.
The first step would be for council to pass a resolution, create a committee and then celebrate the success during Pollination Week in June.
The item will come back to council at a future date.