Western Becomes First University Recognized by Bee City Canada!

Western Becomes First University Recognized by Bee City Canada!

Western University is buzzing with excitement after becoming the first university to be designated a Bee School by Bee City Canada!

Western University is a proud member of the Bee City Canada family!

The Bee City designation is given to communities, including cities, towns, First Nations, businesses and schools,  that establish and maintain healthy pollinator habitat within their boundaries. To be recognized, participants are committed to:

  • Creating, maintaining and/or improving pollinator habitat
  • Educating their community about the importance of pollinators, and
  • Celebrating pollinators during National Pollinator Week or at other times.

Bumble bee and catmint (Nepeta racemose Walker’s Low) spotted on campus.

Creating and maintaining and/or improving pollinator habitat

With over 422 acres, the Western University campus provides many opportunities for pollinator friendly spaces and plants to be integrated. Over the next 5 years, several of Western’s gardens and manicured areas will include more native plant species and plants. Along with already established pollinator friendly trees, Landscape Services has begun the process by increasing plantings of ironweed, liatris, and Joe Pye weed.

Similarly, Western’s Indigenous Studies students have created a medicinal garden on campus. The garden features many native plants sought by pollinators.

Beekeeper Rick Huismann tends to the bees.

Educating the community about the importance of pollinators

Another key component of the designation includes educating the campus community on the benefits of being bee friendly. Our Green campus is an ongoing lecture series at Western. This coming academic year, the lecture series will include a module focusing on pollinators. Participants will learn about care for native plants and enticing habitat, including creating Bee Condos.

Celebrating pollinators during International Pollinator Week

Western is hosting a Pollinator Week during the academic year, with the goal of engaging students, staff, and faculty. The week will be highlighted by a booth on campus, interactive information about pollinators and current campus initiatives, and social media updates. Participants may also sample or buy pollinator friendly products, such as Great Hall Catering’s honey, harvested from beehives on campus.

To date, Bee City Canada recognizes the participation of 19 cities, 8 businesses, and 20 schools.

Laura Pendlebury

Laura Pendlebury

This featured post was written by Laura Pendlebury, a Masters of Environment and Sustainability student from Western University. Laura wants to work with public and private enterprises to improve their current environmental practices and integrate sustainability into both short and long term operations. She can often be found outside petting other people’s dogs, discussing the fascination and critical importance of pollinators and their habitats, and encouraging anyone who will listen to reduce their waste and sort it properly.

Wild at Heart: Wild About Wildlife and Pollinators!

Wild at Heart: Wild About Wildlife and Pollinators!

Take a moment and think about a wildlife rehabilitation centre: do images of injured turtles, sick owls, and orphaned deer fawns and racoons come to mind? Probably! How about insects and pollinators? Maybe not, but Wild at Heart is hoping to change your mind about what wildlife centres do.

Who is Wild at Heart?

Located in Lively, Ontario, Wild at Heart Wildlife Refuge Centre is a wildlife rehabilitation centre focused on providing quality veterinary care to northern Ontario’s injured, sick, and orphaned wildlife. Our goal is to release all admitted animals back into the wild, helping to ensure the health of the habitats that these animals call home. We also focus on protecting nature through our educational and outreach programming.

Child completing a turtle shell repair craft at Wild at Heart’s Pollinator Garden “Grand Opening” event, held June 24, 2017

Healthy Ecosystems for All

We also firmly believe that a healthy ecosystem means everything is healthy: people, animals, insects, vegetation, and water systems. Pollinators, like bumblebees, hummingbirds, bats, and butterflies, are critical to maintaining biodiversity by ensuring that plants can reproduce through pollination. We are very excited about our partnership with Bee City Canada through the Bee City Business Program and looking forward to working together to bring greater awareness about how individuals and communities can make positive changes to help these incredible and essential insects and animals.

Wild Lupin found in Wild at Heart’s pollinator garden being pollinated by solitary wild bee.

Pollinator Garden Celebration

In June 2017, Wild at Heart celebrated the “Grand Opening” of our pollinator garden during National Pollinator Week, thanks to a grant from BEAN. The event, which drew families and others from nearby communities, featured an expert gardener, tomato and milkweed plant giveaways, and fun activities for all. Our guests learned about the native plants in our garden, as well as healthy gardening practices, like using a rain barrel, compost, natural mulch, and weeding techniques. We were very pleased by the positive comments from our visitors, and since this event, our new garden had been recognized through the Canadian Wildlife Federation’s Backyard Habitat Certification program!

Road sign for Wild at Heart’s pollinator garden “Grand Opening” event, held June 24, 2017.

Watering our pollinator garden with water collected in our rain barrel.

Get Involved and Learn with Wild at Heart!

We invite you to join one of Wild at Heart’s education workshops, which are available for classrooms, seniors’ and community groups, and birthday celebrations. Check out http://wahrefugecentre.org for more information.

Don’t live in Sudbury? You can support Wild at Heart by purchasing a yearly membership, or symbolically adopting an animal, like a moose, snowy owl, Blanding’s turtle, or red fox.

Connect with Wild at Heart:

Website: http://wahrefugcentre.org
Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter: @WAHRefugeCentre
YouTube: @babooshka152

Monica Seidel

Monica Seidel

This featured post was written by Monica Seidel, an Environmental Science graduate from Queen’s University who began working at Wild at Heart after completing their volunteer animal care internship. She has a passion for creating online educational content, and empowering children to learn about wildlife and the environment, and how they can make a positive, and often local, impact.

Pollinators Thrive on David’s Farm

Pollinators Thrive on David’s Farm

David Ainslie is a passionate advocate for pollinators who has worked tirelessly since the early 1980s to promote conservation and increase biodiversity on his 300-acre farm located near Leamington, Ontario.

His vision is for a place where farming and nature, with all of its beautiful, living organisms, can co-exist and he believes that maintaining diverse and resilient ecosystems is critical to achieving this objective. David was an early adopter to conservation farming techniques, such as no-till cropping. His farm also features ponds, pollinator meadows and wind breaks that have been enhanced with plants, such as lupines, bergamot and other native varieties, increasing habitat for pollinators and promoting greater biological diversity. Another feature is a relatively intact, 30-acre, Carolinian woodlot, which he has enriched with plantings of native trees, shrubs and flowering plants. Altogether, David has set aside about 15% of his property as natural areas which, through his conservation efforts and time, have become diverse and ecologically-rich landscapes where birds, bees, butterflies and other creatures can thrive.

Bergamot and lupines.

This farm follows a different model than most modern day farms yet, it succeeds in showing what is possible when the determination to create something better exists. David’s work has been recognized by the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, which awarded him the prestigious Farmer-Rancher Pollinator Conservation Award for 2015.

Blood rood and red trillium.

David’s story provides an opportunity to consider how each of us can help to foster positive change in nature. We, too, can be stewards of the land, whether this be the areas around our homes, the school yards where our children play or the public spaces in our cities. Safeguarding our precious and wonderful natural world is a responsibility that we all share.

Bee City School Garden Project Breaks Ground

Bee City School Garden Project Breaks Ground

Planting and tending to a garden can teach us many important things about nature, pollinators and where our food comes from, which is why we’re extremely excited about our School Gardens project that kicked-off earlier this spring.

Bee City Canada founder Shelly Candel speaks with students and teachers at North Bendale Public School. The Bee City team visited all participating schools during the winter to talk about plants, pollinators and begin the garden planning process.

This initiative, which is being generously supported by the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation and Patagonia, will bring pollinator, herb and edible gardens to several Toronto-area schools including Tredway Woodsworth and North Bendale Public Schools in Scarborough, Valley Park Middle School and Marc Garneau Collegiate in Thorncliffe and Cottingham Junior Public School in Summerhill.

Students learned that an essential step of establishing a garden is creating a good design and plan.

Why Gardens? 

Gardens are a simple way through which we can help children build a greater sense of connectedness with nature, especially those growing-up in highly urbanized environments. In addition, they promote physical activity, self-sufficiency and encourage healthier eating, which includes more fruit and vegetables. Some studies also suggest that students who are exposed to outdoor learning activities can perform better academically.

Building the Gardens 

As I write this, the first and most laborious phase of the project is taking place. Truckloads of compost, which will serve as the base for the gardens, have started arriving at the schools and the students have taken up shovels, rakes and wheelbarrows to begin shaping the planting areas.  Seed for hardier, cold-tolerant varieties of plants, like kale, swiss chard and lettuce, are being sown directly into the beds, while more tender varieties will be planted as the risk of frost passes. Several other plants that will eventually find their way into the gardens were started by the students and cared for in their classrooms, providing an excellent opportunity to observe the growing process up-close and learn about the ways of nature.

Starting seeds.

Next Steps                                

By early June, focus will shift to the maintenance phase of the project, which will include tasks like watering, weeding and checking for any potential problems. By the end of the school year, we hope that the students will have learned a great deal and, with some good fortune and a healthy dose of sunshine, be able to harvest the first fruits of their labour.

We’ll “bee” updating our blog with more photos and our latest school garden news throughout the growing season so, please make sure to check back often to see what’s “growing” on!

Celebrating Bee Cities Kitchener and Waterloo!

Celebrating Bee Cities Kitchener and Waterloo!

Shelly Candel addresses community members during the Bee City recognition ceremony at the 2018 Kitchener-Waterloo Earth Day celebration.

Despite the chill in the air, there was a great turnout for the 2018 Kitchener-Waterloo Earth Day celebration held at Kiwanis Park in Kitchener on April 28th, 2018.

The event offered many things to interest nature lovers. Fans of birds witnessed some impressive bird of prey presentations put on by the Canadian Raptor Conservancy. The Waterloo Horticultural Society, RARE Reserve, Waterloo Region Nature and Bee City Kitchener teams were also on hand, organizing fun and educational activities, such as bird box building and native shrub and tree planting.

Left: The Canadian Raptor Conservancy’s birds of prey were a star attraction at the Earth Day celebration
Right: A young visitor playing the seed matching game at the Kitchener Bee City display table.

What was most exciting for Bee City Canada however, was that we had the honour of recognizing two new Bee Cities, Kitchener and Waterloo! During  a brief ceremony attended by members of each community, Bee City Canada’s founder Shelly Candel offered special thanks to Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic and Waterloo Mayor Dave Jaworsky for their support and leadership in protecting pollinators! She also recognized municipal champions Joshua Shea, Natural Areas Coordinator for Kitchener and Peggy Stevens, Environmental Stewardship Coordinator for Waterloo, as well as the working group champions who volunteer their time and passion to help protect pollinators in their respective communities.

Left to right: Waterloo Bee City Working Group member Gary Brenner, Waterloo Mayor Dave Jaworsky, Bee City Canada Director Shelly Candel, Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic.

This was Bee City Kitchener’s first public event and the booth included a seed matching game, educational information and some beautiful photos of native pollinators and plants! The City of Kitchener became Ontario’s 7th Bee City and is undertaking some exciting bee-friendly initiatives all around the city, including a 2018 project that will see eight hectares of meadow habitat restored and enhanced.

Left to right: Nicola Thomas, Kim Fellows, Nancy Dykstra and Kathy Waybrant, four of our Bee City Kitchener Working Group Members.

The City of Waterloo is the 8th Bee City in Ontario and supports native pollinators through community-based stewardship activities and environmental education. Plans for 2018 include new naturalization efforts and ongoing large scale plantings on municipal property. Learn more by visiting Waterloo’s Bee City web page.

Join the Bee City family!  Learn about our programs from cities, schools, businesses and other organizations.

The Calgary Zoo Joins the Bee City Canada Family!

The Calgary Zoo Joins the Bee City Canada Family!

Bee City Canada extends its warmest welcome to the Calgary Zoological Society, the first Bee City Business in Alberta!  As long standing wildlife conservation advocates, we are excited to recognize the Calgary Zoo for their commitment to habitat conservation, education and community engagement in support of pollinators.

Spanning 125 acres, with an additional 300 acre endangered species breeding facility, the zoo grounds host thousands of nectar-rich native plants, with varying and overlapping bloom times, and floral shapes to satisfy a diverse population of pollinators.  Also, the zoo’s approach for managing plant life, incorporating forest floor, understory, shrub and tree layers, provides a diverse and healthy habitat where pollinators can thrive. In 2015, the ‘Pollinator Garden’ was created in a high-profile area, providing additional habitat while also increasing public engagement and creating awareness about the importance of pollinators.

The zoo’s bid to join the Bee City family was strengthened by its ongoing efforts to educate visitors. This is done through interpretive signage in various prominent locations as well as interactive programs. For example, last year, visitors learned how to pot native species, which they were able to take home and plant in their gardens. Also, the zoo estimates that over 65,000 school children participate in educational events annually, a number of which are related to pollinators.  Additional educational activities focus on zoo staff, usually taking place at important times of the year, such as the spring planting season.

The Bee City Business program recognizes socially responsible businesses, non-profit groups and other organizations that are taking action to protect pollinators. Like Bee City Canada’s programs for cities and schools, participants in the Business program are asked to commit to:

  • Creating new, maintaining or improving existing pollinator habitat
  • Educating employees, customers and the local community about the importance of pollinators, and
  • Celebrating International Pollinator Week.

The Calgary Zoo joins three Ontario-based organizations which enrolled in the program in 2017.

We thank the Calgary Zoo for their commitment and tremendous efforts to promote pollinator conservation. As a Bee City Business, the Calgary Zoo is actively participating in a campaign supported by more than 24 cities, schools, and businesses that have committed to do their part to create healthy landscapes, educate Canadians and celebrate the beauty of pollinators.