It’s springtime and Vancouver has started to blossom – dandelion, lilac, maple, cherry, forsythia, pussy willow, snowdrop – a bounty of forage for the pollinators.

One of the exciting things about living in this city is that we have a chance to be an oasis for pollinators, providing diverse forage and habitat, far from the mono-cultural and chemically reliant systems of our agricultural lands. We have a city that is constantly looking to green itself, supporting green projects and advocating for pollinator species.

We presented at Protect the Pollinators this week, and at the BC Honey Producers Association last weekend, and one of the clearest lessons we have taken from these is that conversation and collaboration are the way forward, for all of us: farmers, beekeepers, conservationists, urbanites.

One of the conversations we can all have is “what can I do?”

Here is where we’d get started:

1) Get educated about pollinators!
Pollinators include bees, butterflies, moths, flies, bats, birds, and beetles and these creatures pollinate almost 90% of all flowering plants, providing 1 in 3 of the bites of food we eat, and supporting many other mammals and birds too! There are 450 species of bees native to BC – get to know a few of them …

Pollinator Corridor Project – our community based initiative that is all about connecting people and pollinators – come join us at our weekly workshop Thursdays 1-3pm at the Hastings Urban Farm – walk our pollinator meadow, visit our honey bee apiary, our mason bee house, our beneficial insect habitat

Elle Lab at SFU  for info and research on native pollinator species in BC

Xerces Society for a wealth of information about invertebrates, including pollinator species and how we can support them

Antler Collective Join the “Pollen Nation” – get out and count pollinators this summer, in research meadows throughout our city!

2) Garden with pollinators in mind! 
Whether in your backyard, on your patio or window ledge, or at your community garden, plant pollinator friendly forage, and set aside undisturbed habitat for pollinators; there are many options and variations, and you can get creative!

Ideas for pollinator friendly forage (plants that have sources of nectar and pollen):

– Allow dandelions, clover and wildflowers to bloom in your lawn

– Let a few of your veggies go to flower. You can save the seeds from these flowering veggies, like kale, carrots, onion, garlic, and broccoli, for next year

– Plant a perennial pollinator patch. You have lots of choices, herbs like rosemary, sage, lavender, thyme, oregano, liquorice mint, peppermint and lemon balm are all pollinator friendly and tasty for you too, and native species like yarrow and lupin are built for our climate and easy to maintain.

Ideas for pollinator habitat (most pollinators are ground nesting and need undisturbed patches of soil):

– Leave an undisturbed section of grassy soil and wildflowers in the corner of your garden

– Leave a pile of unturned compost in the corner of your garden (bumblebees love nooks or air in compost piles, almost as much as they like abandoned mouse nests!)

– Don’t turn the soil of your garden, or at least your garden edges, as who know’s whose home you’re collapsing when you do

Resources for understanding more:

Feed the Bees – for a range of native pollinator friendly species that will have your garden in bloom from early spring to late summer, providing nectar and pollen for our insect friends.

Elle Lab also has “what to plant” section on their info page

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