Honey bees may not the first the first thing to come to mind when thinking of Toronto but that’s exactly what members of the city’s parks and environment committee believe we can soon be known for.
Toronto Councillor Michelle Berardinetti, who is also a bee and butterfly gardener, illustrates the importance of the yellow striped insects.
“We make billions of dollars off their work, but they’re not exactly paid for it. If we don’t have bees, there are so many fruits and vegetables that actually wouldn’t exist.”
According to the BBC bees pollinate around 70 of the 100 crops that 90 per cent of the world digests. One third of those crops are either grown or consumed in Canada.
Berardinetti has confirmed Toronto already meets the criteria set by Bee City USA to become a Bee City. From having specific gardens for pollination to planting milk weed, Toronto’s bid to receive the title is “very, very likely to go through.”
Evergreen Brick Works project manager and community green initiative member Jill Kelly expanded on bees relationship with our city.
“We have active hives and nesting boxes for community members, they actually help build them and we install them across the GTA. In urban areas [pollination] is substantially important, especially for local production and for native species of plants.”
Of course, like other living creatures, bees need individual living conditions to thrive. Toronto has been a destination of choice for the warm summers and various rural habitats. This makes the city even more valuable to the pollination system if we become a “Bee city.”
“Pollination is extremely important for local food production. It’s obviously more cost effective to have local pollination versus man made or artificial pollination.”
Here at Humber, the efforts to support a pro-pollination environment were boosted by the addition of active bee hives at both the North and Lakeshore campuses.
Giving the honey bees shelter throughout the year assists them with coping with climate change, natural destruction of the environment and pesticides. Humber’s hives are active year round.
Humber North’s Manager of Sustainability, Lindsay Walker hopes that the hives do more than just provide local bees with a roof.
“The main idea was we were going to help the eco-system and engage the students while they walked by them.”