I was impressed with the design for the Vancouver convention centre, in downtown Vancouver, having bee hives on the green roof.

The six-acre rooftop garden is crafted as a habitat for the 400,000 native plants and grasses growing there, as well as for birds and bugs (it houses hives for 60,000 bees).

Source: Worldchanging: Bright Green: Canada’s Largest Green Roof

Bees are a critical part of our ecosystem – one that needs to be encouraged rather than constrained as part of our laws and social responsibility to the environment. Pollinators in general appear to be having a rough time in North America at the moment, possibly in part from the over-commercialization of the pollinator industries, and colony diseases that have decimated bee populations in many areas.

Many Animal Bylaws, including Castlegar’s prohibit bees in urban areas. Is this a move from the corporate honey companies to control the competition? Or are bees really dangerous in urban areas? I must say that wasps and hornets are way scarier in my books. If they are such a problem, why are hives being installed on a public building in the highest density city in British Columbia?

And in another story from Vancouver, this time about Mason bees which are fairly docile and rarely sting…

A $90,000 project to increase the bee population in Vancouver is underway with volunteers now monitoring 53 new colonies of mason bees, living in their own “bee condos” in various parks and public spaces around the city.

The program began last year with 100 mason-bee condos being distributed to homeowners for placing in backyards, said Hartley Rosen, manager of Environmental Youth Alliance, the volunteer organization that is responsible for the initiative.

Residents taking a colony of 36 bees were expected to plant pollen-rich, bee-friendly plants and fruit trees and to garden organically without the use of pesticides, Rosen said.

Source: City of Vancouver supplies free condos to boost urban bee population

Vancouver’s making their city more friendly to bees. it is worth asking your local givernment what they are doing to protect and encourage pollinators. Some suggestions:

  • Ban Chemical Herbicides
  • Ban Chemical Insecticides
  • Permit Mason Bees at a minimum
  • Consider allowing Honey Bees, particularly in less dense neighbourhoods
  • Encourage the growing of crops that require pollination

Here’s something you probably didn’t know…

…bees provide another service to flowers, besides acting as a pollen vehicle – they deliver a protection service for their very buzzing scares away hungry caterpillars.

Source: Not Exactly Rocket Science : Buzzing bees scare caterpillars away from plants

Give bees a break. Local honey is important, we have no other readily available local sweetener in the Kootenays. They are an important part of the food chain, assisting with the pollination of fruit trees and vegetables, they likely displace many species of wasps, and now we find out they scare caterpillars away. Sure they sting, but they provide an important service and we shouldn’t malign their reputation as a result.

Published by Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of UrbanWorkbench.com and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada.

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