1 in 3 bites of food that you eat everyday is a result of pollination by animals, mainly honeybees. While there are many different pollinators in Ontario, including native bees, butterflies, wasps, bats, moths, and more, managed honeybees are the main pollinators of agricultural crops in Canada.
Keeping healthy honeybee colonies has become increasingly challenging over the last decade for a variety of reasons. Pesticides, drought, habitat destruction, parasites and disease are all reasons sighted for a declining honeybee population.
But there is still hope, there are many little things that you can do to help both honeybees and native pollinators.
1. Plant a Pollinator Garden
Habitat destruction is a leading threat to managed honeybees and native pollinators. Crop plants can be sources of nectar for pollinators, but are often only in bloom for a short period of time, and do not provide the diversity of pollen and nectar needed for a balanced diet. By planting a pollinator garden, you can create a habitat that welcomes pollinators and provides them with rich pollen and nectar. For a list of pollinator friendly flowers that will brighten your garden, check out Planting for Pollinators 101.
2. Support Local Beekeepers
Beekeepers are already working hard to manage the honeybee population in your local area. The easiest way to support your local bee population is by supporting your local beekeepers. Local honey also has added benefits compared to mass produced honey. Local honey is made from local flora and pollen, meaning that it can help with seasonal allergies. Local honey also has flavour and aroma unique to the location it was harvested.
3. Go Pesticide Free
Pesticides can harm both honeybees and native pollinators. By avoiding the use of pesticides and other chemicals in your garden, you can create a welcoming environment for pollinators.
4. Mow Your Lawn Less
Dandelions and flowering Clover are excellent pollen sources for honeybees, especially earlier in the Spring season where there aren’t many flowers in bloom yet. Consider mowing your lawn less during the spring and summer to allow for more foraging.
5. Create a Bee Bath
Fresh water is essential for honeybees and other pollinators. Consider creating a Bee Bath in your garden for all the pollinators in your yard. Fill a shallow bird bath with water and add stones that break the surface of the water. Pollinators will land on these stones for a refreshing drink.
6. Utilize and Support Local Organizations
There are many great organizations across Ontario and Canada that are doing great work to support honeybees and native pollinators. If you’re located in Southern Ontario, our sister company Toronto Bee Rescue, offers free honeybee swarm removals and humane removal of established honeybee colonies. If you notice unwelcomed honeybees on your property, contact a professional to humanely remove it, not an exterminator.