On July 1, Ontario is set to implement restrictions on the use of neonicotinoid pesticides, which have been linked to declining bee populations. So far, the B.C. and Canadian governments have not indicated they will follow suit, despite calls from environmental groups for them to do so.
“B.C. could do more to protect their pollinators, for sure,” Erin Udal, coordinator of pollinator conservation programs for the Environmental Youth Alliance, told the Georgia Straight, standing near five beehives in the VanDusen Botanical Garden.
EYA is one of several organizations behind the Pollinator Party, which will take place in the garden on Sunday (June 14) from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The family-friendly event will celebrate pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds; educate the public about their importance to food security; and kick off Pollinator Week (June 15 to 21).
Shawn Mitchell, executive director of the VanDusen Botanical Garden Association, told the Straight the Pollinator Party is free with admission to the garden. A “bee safari” will offer a guided tour of bee habitats, and a “touch table” will feature specimens of pollinator species.
“It’s important that adults and their kids learn and understand that when they see certain bugs out there that they’re to be protected and treasured as opposed to being smashed and smooshed,” Mitchell said.
According to Udal, Vancouver is home to 56 species of bees, including native bumblebees and mason bees and non-native honeybees. There are even green, red, and blue bees.
Udal pointed out bees are responsible for pollinating most food crops. She noted people can help out by planting a diversity of native plants in their gardens.
“We’re not trying to be political, but I think that every level of government could stand to take a moment to understand the importance of pollinators to food health and food security across the country and to take proactive steps to support local and native bee populations,” Mitchell said. “It’s just smart.”
Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick’s staff told the Straight by email that he was unavailable for an interview.