AMHERST – The familiar honeybee is about to get some competition in the pollination business.
Seeds of Diversity Canada, whose project coordinator is River Hebert’s Su Morin, was given the financial green light this week by Environment Canada’s EcoAction Community Funding to establish six native pollinator gardens in Atlantic Canada and Amherst is one of the chosen sites.
Native pollinators go beyond the imported honeybee, including flies, bees indigenous to Canada and other insects.
“Pollinators are an indispensable natural resource, and their daily work is essential for the production of food,” Morin said.” These beneficial insects are under threat from loss of habitat, loss of food sources, disease, and pesticide exposure. As insect populations are threatened, so are the fruit and vegetable produce, and the wild ecosystems that depend on these pollinators”.
Six native pollinator gardens will be established in Amherst, Truro, Sydney, St. John's, NL; Sackville, NB; and Charlottetown, PE.
The main goals of the project are to produce and install six interpretive signs at each of the gardens and conduct six free public workshops on native pollinator conservation in each of the communities where the gardens will be established. Signs will illustrate the importance of native pollinator conservation and will include photos of native species of plants and insects. Workshops will feature information on habitat-creation for native pollinator species, including what types of native wildflowers to plant to attract and conserve our native pollinators.
Approximately 100 native plants will be installed in each pollinator garden, along with five native bee house structures, which have been constructed and donated by local youth through a community-school partnership.
“While the (non-native) honeybee is indisputably the most well-known pollinator species, there has been an over-reliance on honey bee populations for pollination, and honey bee colonies are struggling and on the decline,” Morin said. “There are over 800 known native species of bees in Canada, plus many pollinating flies and other insects which can do the important work of pollinating our food plants and orchards.”
The project aims to bring these native pollinator insects into public consciousness, in an attempt to raise awareness about their importance to local biodiversity and food security, as well as to engage local citizens in their conservation and protection.