Bees can be a gardener’s best friend, and are an essential agreement to land stewardship. (Pixabay photo)

Let’s all step up bee-cause we can

Garden club discusses benefits of bees at next meeting

Loretta Fritz | Contributed

In January members of the Sooke Garden Club decided to make 2018 “bee friendly” in every way possible. Presentations have paid attention to the bee connection, either directly or indirectly, and everyone has been buzzing about the various types of bees they’ve been seeing in their gardens since spring.

I couldn’t help but notice the sheer number of bees hovering around this year, and I started noting the different kinds, not by name, but by appearance. Such different shapes, sizes, colours, and colour patterns. It never occurred to me that so many bee species would be diligently working away in a single garden. Yet here they were in all their noisy glory.

For me, however, the most significant impact of this year’s spotlight on bees (likely a result of increased knowledge) has been the loss of nervousness when I’m working around them. I picked, pruned, deadheaded, and weeded whenever I had the time and inclination, not just when I couldn’t see or hear the little fuzzballs. As for the bees, they simply went about their business, ignoring me even when I hassled them or pushed them aside.

Pollinating, of course, is their business, and from the human perspective it’s what they do best. Seventy percent of crops require or benefit from pollinators, especially native bees. Without them, we would lose about a third of our food. Blueberries, squash, peppers, apples, carrots, and almonds are just a few of the food crops that need pollinators. This is why it is so important to protect and nurture our local bee populations.

Stewardship actions are front and centre at this month’s meeting of the Sooke Garden Club. Paige Erickson-McGee, stewardship coordinator for Habitat Acquisition Trust and co-chair of Victoria’s Native Plant Study Group, is the featured speaker. Paige insists that stewardship activities are rewarding for both the individual and the bees: “They connect you to nature in a very meaningful way.”

In her presentation, Native Plants, Wild Edibles, and Pollinators, Paige will offer suggestions for supporting local native bees in our backyards and gardens. She will also cover some easy-to-implement ideas for becoming a “good neighbour” to nature and discuss how we can simultaneously feed the bees and ourselves with pollinator-friendly wild edibles.

Please join us on Wednesday, Sept. 26, 7 p.m., at St. Rose of Lima Church on Townsend Road. The meeting will also feature our last parlour show of the season, and winners of the annual potato contest will be announced. New members are always welcome. Questions? Visit our website at sookegardenclub.ca or email us at sookegc@gmail.com.

Photo cutline: Paige Erickson-McGee with a Blue Orchard Mason Bee at Haliburton Farm. Paige is a lead pollinator steward for the Haliburton Farm Urban Biodiversity Enhancement and Restoration Project.

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Loretta Fritz writes for the Sooke Garden Club

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