Local bees are generating a lot of buzz these days.
There are an estimated 450 species of wild bees living here in BC. Less well known than honeybees, these species of wild bees have a big role to play when it comes to pollination. They’re also known to be more efficient at pollinating crops native to North America than honeybees.
“One out of three bites you eat is thanks to a bee — and it’s not just the honeybees,” explains Dr. Elizabeth Elle, a professor at SFU’s department of biological sciences. Wild bees are important for supporting a whole range of BC plants and crops including some that honeybees are not so good at pollinating, such as onion, lupine, lavender, and borage starflower.
For wild bee populations to remain healthy and viable in the future, they need places where they can visit and collect the food they need to thrive. Places like the new pollinator garden planted by FortisBC in Metro Vancouver last month.
Located at the foot of Burnaby Mountain trail on the greenspace near the intersection of Broadway and Underhill Avenue, the new garden was designed to attract and support local pollinators. According to Elle, the best time to visit the new garden will be next spring/summer when many of its plants flower.
Metro Vancouver’s new pollinator garden is made up of nine different species of plants chosen specifically because pollinators are wild about them. This includes 15 vine maples and hundreds of flowering shrubs and bushes. We’re talking about red elderberry, mock orange, snowberry, thimbleberry, vine maples, Saskatoon serviceberries, yarrow, Nootka rose, and Oregon grape — all of the things a buzzing bee population might need.
“This is about so much more than the honeybee. It’s about amazing biodiversity. By planting a diversity of plants, you’re going to support more of that diversity of pollinators, more of those 450 species of bees,” explains Elle. “I would like to see more organizations consider creating pollinator gardens like this when they are completing restoration work – it can really make a big difference.”
Elle notes that the plants FortisBC has chosen will provide amazing habitats for pollinators, as well as the food that they need to survive and raise their offspring. “It’s really important for the functioning ecosystem and to protect the pollinators that produce the food that we eat, that the bears eat, and that the birds eat.”
Hoping to do your bit to support local wild bee populations at home? You could start by planting pollinator plants like fleabane, spider flowers, foxgloves, artichokes, hollyhocks, and sunflowers.
FortisBC funded the garden as a way to say thanks to the community for its patience during construction on its gas line upgrades in the area. The legacy project is part of the company’s ongoing commitment to supporting the communities it serves, and it was planted as part of site restoration along the gas line route.
This year’s construction mostly took place along Lougheed Highway, Broadway and Gaglardi Way in Burnaby, and Como Lake Avenue in Coquitlam. A total of 20 km of new gas line was built in Vancouver, Burnaby, and Coquitlam over 2018-19, including along East 1st Avenue in 2018, with the upgrade project completed this month.
It will come into operation this month and help ensure more than 210,000 homes and businesses across the Lower Mainland continue to receive the natural gas they count on every day.