Building corridors of resilence for bees

Sooke Garden Club meets Wednesday

Building corridors of resilence for bees

Loretta Fritz | Contributed

The decline in North America’s bee populations is a post-Second World War phenomenon. It has increased more or less in lockstep with the industrialization of agriculture and the intensity of food crop production for commercial purposes.

Human population growth, loss of native habitat, changing climate patterns, widespread use of pesticides and insecticides, importation of invasive and exotic plants, viruses – all of these factors have had, and continue to have, a devastating impact on bees.

According to Lori Weidenhammer, author of the book Victory Gardens for Bees: A DIY Guide to Saving the Bees (Douglas and McIntyre), we’re not dealing with these issues fast enough, and extinction is a realistic possibility if things don’t change.

It is widely accepted that bees (primarily native bees) and other insects are responsible for pollinating some 90 per cent of the world’s plants, including fully a third of all the food we eat.

“Not only would food systems for humans collapse if we lost the bees, but also sustenance for wildlife. No bees, no berries. No berries, no bears … No seeds, no future,” Weidenhammer says

Weidenhammer is this month’s featured speaker at the Sooke Garden Club. She is a Vancouver performance-based interdisciplinary artist, educator, food security volunteer and activist, and unabashed bee champion.

In the face of ongoing pressures on bee populations, she asserts that we are, quite literally, gardening for our lives.

What does this mean? It means that as we lose more and more arable land and wild habitat to development and industrial agriculture, we need to build corridors of resilience for bees. These corridors are areas, or passageways, containing a range of plants that provide food and nutrition for both wildlife and humans.

Weidenhammer will discuss how we can pull together – in the cooperative and collaborative spirit of the original Victory Gardens of the First World War – to create this edible infrastructure and defend these pollinator pathways that help preserve what is left of our planet’s biodiversity. And whether our garden consists of a few containers on a balcony, a small urban backyard, or several acres of land, we can all play a part in saving our local bees.

Join us on Wednesday (April 25), 7 p.m., at St. Rose of Lima Church on Townsend Road. Also on the agenda: parlour show, plant sale, and sale of contest potatoes. New members are always welcome. Questions? Visit our website at sookegardenclub.ca or email us at sookegc@gmail.com.

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Loretta Fritz writes for the Sooke Garden Club.