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Bee Kind

 5th and Pine "Pop up Bee park" Mural, Vancouver, BC

5th and Pine "Pop up Bee park" Mural, Vancouver, BC

Hello readers, glad you're here! Today I wanted to look at some recent insect conservation efforts. 

One insect that’s really managed to rally the public is bees. These fuzzy blimp-copters are special in that they’re one of the few invertebrates that have achieved the classification of “cute”. Whether you like them because they’re fuzzy, chill in flowers and communicate through dance, or like me you’re more impressed by their neat flight mechanics (by transverse vortex generation), either way I think we can agree bee’s merit some buzz ;)

Not long ago, the global bee populations were declining. There was a honey bee epidemic worldwide known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). At Canada’s CCD peak in 2008, 35% of colonies were lost in a single winter. The bee population was dwindling. At the time, the focus was on a parasitic mite (aka“Varroa destructor”), but over time consensus has emerged that the overall health of the bee’s is also central to the problem. Climate change, infection, habitat loss, poor nutrition and neonicotinoids pesticides use on crops are all closely linked issues that left the bee’s in poor shape.[1]

 Canadian High Commissions Rooftop"Bee Hotel"

Canadian High Commissions Rooftop"Bee Hotel"

The plight of the honey bee took the world by storm. Canadian politicians, bee-keepers and the public alike sprung into action. Culinary and gardening enthusiasts started grass-root movements in cities by building hives and “bee hotels” in their yards. “Bee-friendly” garden popularity exploded, and soon businesses and politicians were making it part of their lives and marketing. The Canadian High Consulate in London even became the first embassy to install Bee hives and “Hotel” on their roof [video]. 

 "Bee park" at 5th and Pine, Vancouver

"Bee park" at 5th and Pine, Vancouver

Municipalities in Canada have also been taking action, including the use of “bee blend” flowers in Vancouver parks, “Bee parks” designed to house bee’s and create awareness, or Toronto’s designation as Canada’s first “Bee city”.

Globally a period of intense research ensued. Over 1100 studies analysed the effect of pesticides and found that “neonicotinoid” pesticides are harmful to many fauna, including bee’s, at doses found in agricultural applications.[2]

In addition to more hives and flowers, public awareness also ensured rapid and aggressive action by Canadian policy makers to address other issues facing bee’s. Immediate measures to limit harm included “Anti-dust” legislation to minimise air-borne insecticides [3], while a more thorough review of insecticides and the approval process followed. Based on recent research, Health Canada has recognized the hazardous potential of select insecticides and is working to phase them out. [4] Governments such as Ontario have gone one step further by developing it’s “Pollinator Health Action Plan”. 

One thing that I learned is that “Honey bee’s” aren’t native to North America, they’re a foreign species brought in for the honey industry. Bee’s native to Canada however are still crucial to many native plant species. While the focus has been chiefly on honey bee’s, many aspects also benefit the native species.[5]

After a tough few years for bee’s, things in Canada seem to be getting better. Bee’s are still not as healthy as they should be and some native species are still endangered, however, Canada’s honey bee population is now growing and mortality rates are down to 16% for honey bees. Conversely, the U.S.A. is reeling from another 44% mortality rate this past winter. [6][7] Canada continues to blossom with new initiatives, such as The Great Bee Count. From August 1 until September 15 the campaign asks Canadians to photograph and report bee spotting’s in order to identify endangered bee species. 

The plight of the Bee’s no doubt benefited from our understanding of their indispensable role in our world. Hopefully as education and awareness increase, more people will likewise be able to see the value in conservation of other less charismatic and profitable, more annoying/scary species, like the lowly mosquito ;) 

Thank’s for reading : ) 

A. Janusz

[1]-(http://www.capabees.com/shared/2015/07/2016-CAPA-Statement-on-Colony-Losses-July-19.pdf)

[2] http://www.tfsp.info/findings/conclusions/

[3] https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/consumer-product-safety/reports-publications/pesticides-pest-management/fact-sheets-other-resources/pollinator-treated-seed/treated-corn-soybean-seed.html

[4]  http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/health-canada-imidacloprid-neonicotinoid-1.3864450

[5] http://www.davidsuzuki.org/what-you-can-do/downloads/Pollinators_fact_sheet.pdf

[6]"Bee Populations Seem To Be Bouncing Back In Canada, But Not in the US", VICE magasine, https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/3daazv/bee-populations-seem-to-be-bouncing-back-in-canada-but-not-in-the-us

[7]Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturists Statement on Honey Bee Wintering Losses in Canada (2016), Fig. 1 "http://www.capabees.com/shared/2015/07/2016-CAPA-Statement-on-Colony-Losses-July-19.pdf

This Term's Writer: Valerie Willier

Oh no, Mosquito!