Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Restoring Resilience: Big Impacts Across Small Spaces Forum 2016

We are so excited to be participating in Carolinian Canada Coalition and the Ontario Invasive Plant Council's 2016 Forum, Restoring Resilience:Big Impacts Across Small Spaces Forum 2016.
From the event page:
“Restoring Resilience: Big Impacts Across Small Spaces” will focus on recovering ecosystem health at all scales, from backyards to landscapes, in the context of changing climate, biodiversity loss, invasive species, and the growing disconnect between society and nature. The conference will bring together 350-plus conservation practitioners and interested laypeople from across Ontario to connect with those working in the fields of invasive plants and ecosystem recovery, spreading the word on exciting new projects, innovations, and accomplishments. Building on the eloquent message of our keynote speaker, Doug Tallamy, in his book, “Bringing Nature Home,” the event will especially emphasize “the why and the how” of restoring native biodiversity and habitat in the cities, towns and settled landscapes of Ontario.
The Pollinator Paradise Project will be there to speak about the work we are doing to build a pollinator corridor across the city of Hamilton.
Lubmila Shkoda, photo credit.
Urban environments have the potential to support large numbers of pollinators.

The research is increasingly showing that residents in urban areas like Hamilton can play a major role in ensuring pollinators survive. Our project is an initiative that is based on this sort of research, and is designed to achieve high-priority species conservation.

According to the Urban Pollinators Project (Bristol University), half of Germany’s entire bee fauna have been found in Berlin, 35% of British hoverfly species were sampled in a single Leicester garden and honeybees produce more honey in urban Birmingham than in the surrounding countryside.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Pollinators Need Your Voice: Tell the Province Your Greenbelt Includes Habitat.

The thing about pollinators is that they can't speak for themselves. If they could, they would tell you how much they appreciate habitat in which to feed, live and reproduce.

They would tell you too many of their numbers are dwindling, due to lose of habitat and other factors like pesticides and climate change.

These ethereal creatures, from whose labour we benefit from a thousand-fold, would tell you that they need what habitat is left to be protected. And now we have a chance to do just that!

Here's how:
Fortunately, the province of Ontario wants to hear from you how it can improve the Greenbelt. They are seeking your comments concerning proposed changes to the Greenbelt Plan (along with the 3 other land-use plans) up until October 31st.

Ontario’s Greenbelt is the solution for fresh air, clean water, natural heritage/habitat, healthy local food, active outdoor recreation, and a thriving economy. At nearly two million acres, it’s the world’s largest permanently protected greenbelt, keeping our farmlands, forests, and wetlands safe and sustainable.

Right now, the Greater Golden Horseshoe area is under extreme pressure from developers who want to take out land from the Greenbelt.

Friday, September 30, 2016

The Benefits of Fall Gardening

"The fall is the most important time of year in any garden," says Charlie Briggs, gardener at the Royal Botanical Garden (RBG).

 It can seem counter-intuitive, the fall being a beneficial season for gardening. We tend to focus on spring, with the sense of everything starting up. But in the fall, plants are getting ready to go dormant, "so you're not interrupting anything," Charlie says.

Charlie explains that the cool temperatures and additional moisture allows plants to get a head start on the following season.

On a fall day, you can put in hardy plants, perennial woody types and native plants like black-eyed Susans, echinacea, milkweed etc.

It's also the best possible time to divide and transplant seeds.
Collecting seeds from the garden is easy, sowing outside, literally letting mother nature do the work.

"Look for pods or seeds that have turned brown or yellow, and wait until the seed can drop on its own," says Charlie. "Leave some for the birds though."

 Be sure to make labels for the areas in garden or a map.

Charlie points to other advantages of fall gardening: with less vegetation, you can fill empty spaces in the garden and also, more space allows true form to emerge as you plan and plant.

Remember that native plants are needed for pollinators that overwinter so leave those stalks for the winter for these little critters to hibernate within. Leave the plants as they are,  all winter long and you can cut in the spring and leave on the ground, providing extra weeks for the insects to emerge.

Read more about fall gardening on our previous post.

Recommended reading:

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Protecting Our Native Bees and Other Pollinators: What we Can do to Help.

The evidence is clear that many native wild pollinators are declining. That wouldn’t be a big deal, if commercial honeybees could pick up the slack. They can’t. Managed honey bee colonies supplement the work of natural wild pollinators, not the other way around. In a study of 41 different crop systems worldwide, honeybees only increased yield in 14 percent of the crops. Who did all the pollination? Native bees and other insects. Gwen Pearson, Your worrying about the wrong bees.

All pollinators are in trouble, not just honeybees. And while honeybees get most of the credit, native bees and other pollinators are actually the workforce of the pollinating world, doing the bulk of the chores.

Bumblebee on nectaring on a scabious plant by Carmel Mothersill
According to Bee City Canada, bees are often considered to be the most important animal pollinator for a number of reasons, including that they are the only pollinator that rely solely on flowers for all their nutritional needs, obtaining their protein from pollen and carbohydrates from nectar.

Being fuzzy and electrostatically charged, makes bees particularly effective at carrying pollen.
Bee City Canada also points out that bees are flower-constant: they like to work one kind of flower at a time. So "a bee that has started to gather nectar from apple blossoms will continue to gather nectar from apple blossoms until that period of foraging  has ended," helping to ensure the cross-pollination of plants.

Writer, Gwen Pearson reports in 'Native Bees Increase Blueberry Crop Yields' (Wired, 2015) that research looking at the individual efficiency of different bee species found small, native bees were highly efficient pollinators; their visits resulting in nearly twice as many seeds as honey bees. "They also aren’t as wimpy as honey bees, which only like to forage in nice sunny weather," Pearson writes. From the research, Pearson quotes:
“A perfect bee would be super abundant, work under all weather conditions, and handle pollen efficiently. A perfect bee also doesn’t exist,” said Dr. Burrack. “We wondered if all these different bees, working together, can fill in the gaps and function as a perfect bee community.” Essentially, each bee species is complimentary.
Native bees deserve more of our attention. Thankfully, there is a lot we can do to help protect our native bees and other pollinators.

On Wednesday, November 2nd, join us to learn about the what native pollinators do for us, the challenges they face, including the harm honeybees can cause to native pollen bees in urban areas (including spreading disease and competing for limited resources) and how we can help by building a habitat corridor of native plants. We will also learn about the challenges of urban beekeeping.

Speaker include: Research, Scott MacIvor (University of Toronto).  Peter Kevan (University of Guelph, Environmental Biology). Local Hamilton Beekeeper, Michelle Ordyniec.

Wednesday, Nov. 2nd.
The Spectator Building
44 Frid St.

Get your FREE tickets here.

For more information, contact Beatrice at