THUNDER BAY - As bee populations continue to face challenges, weeds might just be something to buzz about.
In what may come as a surprise to the weed-adverse, Ann McGoey says bees adore dandelions.
“In the spring, that’s the first source of pollen and protein for the bees, so I’m not crazy about pulling out all the dandelions in my lawn,” she said. “Thankfully this time of year you can’t see them, but the bees love the dandelions.”
The gardener and member of the Thunder Bay Beekeeper’s Association said Wednesday that it’s important for bees and other pollinators, like moths, butterflies and birds, to have a pesticide-free food source.
The local beekeepers’ association and other members of the city’s beekeeping community are promoting the planting of bee and pollinator-friendly gardens in order to help the dwindling bee population.
Since McGoey started beekeeping four years ago, she’s tried to move away from a purely aesthetic gardens to a more bee-friendly one.
“If I’m thinking about a spot in the garden, I think if something didn’t do very well there I’ll take it out and I will plant something that I know the bees will like,” she said.
EcoSuperior program co-ordinator Aynsley Klassen says the organization launched the Planting for Pollinators project in the spring to help people understand the link between food security and pollinator health.
“We’ve been planting a few wildflower beds at different community gardens to help increase habitat and food foraging opportunities for different wild pollinators which also helps to increase the yield and the quality of food that’s being produced in the garden,” she said.
One-third of food products require pollination from bees and other pollinators, and the population decrease means a threat to food security.
Based on data from managed honeybee colonies, Klassen said many beekeepers have lost their beehives due to the harsh winter season.
“The other thing is that we don't know so much about what’s happening with the wild pollinators,” she added. “We know that some wild bees are being endangered.”
There are over 400 wild bee species in Ontario that are being affected by climate change and pesticide use.
People can make their home gardens bee-friendly by not using pesticides and herbicides on their plants. McGoey says bees are attracted to the colours blue, purple, violet, white and yellow.
“I think if somebody’s interested in gardening, it’s certainly a nice focus,” McGoey says. “I mean, you want to have it aesthetically pleasing, but I think most people are aware now of the problems with bees and other pollinators, and so if we in any way help with that problem in feeding the bees, that would be awesome.”
Resources on planting pollinator-friendly gardens can be found at ecosuperior.org and www.thunderbaybeekeepersassociation.ca.
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