Monday, December 14, 2015

TOYOTA: Planting Pollinator Gardens on its 21,000 Acres of Land

 It’s not often you hear about large corporate players making significant contributions to sustainability efforts. That’s why we are so excited to learn about Toyota's project to protect honeybees and other pollinators.

With 21,000 acres of land in North America, they decided to put this acreage to good use by planting pollinator gardens. A number of sites, including those certified or applying for certification with the Wildlife Habitat Council, are already maintaining pollinator gardens, and more are on the way.

Here's a summarized version of the article that Miye Cox, a Cambridge/Woodstock, Ontario engineer with Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada Inc (TMMC) and associated with the project forwarded to us to share with our readers. The original version can be found here.

It helps that a number of Toyota facilities are located along the monarch’s migration pathway, from Canada in the north, through the U.S., to Mexico in the south.
A number of Toyota’s North American plants are developing monarch butterfly waystation habitats onsite and in the surrounding community. The waystations contain wildflowers and milkweed. Wildflowers provide nectar for the adults while milkweed serves as food and shelter for monarch larvae.
Toyota’s North American manufacturing headquarters (TEMA) in Erlanger, Kentucky, has a pollinator garden with a butterfly pond.
Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky (TMMK) has two monarch waystations onsite and has supported our additional waystations in surrounding communities.
Toyota Bodine Aluminum Tennessee (BAI), located in Jackson, worked with a landscaper to plant over an acre of Southeastern Wildflower mix. BAI is an aluminum casting facility that manufactures engine blocks for Toyota. The site’s biodiversity team is focusing on providing the essential habitat components for pollinators, birds, bats and other wildlife, as well as encouraging team members and the community to explore and learn more about native species.
Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Texas (TMMTX) has four pollinator gardens onsite. Team members are working on increasing the variety of native species in these gardens.
Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Mississippi (TMMMS) planted four pollinator gardens alongside two new pavilions built by team members. The pavilions include a number of sustainable features, including furniture made from recycled plastic, solar lighting and rain water harvesting. All of the gardens were certified by Monarch Watch as monarch waystations.

In Cambridge, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada (TMMC) has over 150 milkweed plants already established; additional wildflowers were planted this year to enhance pollinator habitat.
In Woodstock, TMMC enhanced naturally occurring wildflower and milkweed growth by adding new wildflower mixes. Monarch butterflies and their caterpillars have been observed in these areas. Monarch larvae eat milkweed leaves as their first meal and use the plant for shelter as they grow. To increase awareness of the importance of monarch butterflies and other pollinators, team members created a new pollinator garden using both wildflower mixes and plants from the Canadian Wildlife Federation.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Of Honey Bees, Native Bees and Overwintering Your Garden (Brenda Van Ryswyk): Part 2

This is a continuation of the interview we did with Brenda Van Ryswyk, Natural Heritage Ecologist with Conservation Halton.

Native Bees Need Habitat; They Need Protection 

Studies show that urban and sub-urban areas can be habitat for many species of native bees, so if you have a big backyard, you can have a really positive impact on native pollinators. A study in France showed that the sub-urban area (areas with at least some lawn/gardens) had the highest abundance of both species and individual numbers of native bees (when compared to highly urban areas of all concrete, and intense monoculture agriculture). Any amount of lawn has real potential.

Brenda reports that some species of bee can use cracks in mortar of buildings for nesting habitat or cracks in pavement. In urban areas they need more nesting habitat and a little bit more nectar (too much hard impervious surface is not good).  She points to a University of Toronto study that showed when flowers were added to an area bees quickly appeared to feed on them.

80% of native bees will use soil to nest in, therefore bare ground and soil is vital native bee habitat, "Not everything needs to be covered in grass or vegetation," Brenda says. The other 20% mostly nest in hollow stems, holes and cracks. Brenda suggests that it is easy to help those species by leaving some dead wood in your yard, not “cleaning up” all the old plant stems or purposefully providing hollow plant stem bundles for nesting.
"Simply planting more flowers for nectar is a simple but highly beneficial thing to do. The next best thing to do would be to leave some bare, sunny ground undisturbed for them to nest in," Brenda says.

More random facts from Brenda:
Most of our native bees are solitary. The exception is the bumblebees, they do build small colonies.
Most of our native bees cannot and will not sting.

The solitary bees
 1) have no reason to sting, being solitary! The main reason for stings is defending the hive, since they have no hive they have no reason to sting.
2) Many solitary bees physically cannot sting because they are so small and are to week to pierce our skin.
3)Bumblebees are one of our native bees that can sting, because they do have a colony they will sting if you harm the nest and individuals will sting if you grab and crush them.
4)But it is perfectly safe to observe ALL bees as they are feeding (even honeybees) because “a feeding bee is a happy bee” and when they are feeding they are away from the hive so will not sting unless you grab and crush them (threaten their life)…..(or step on them, if you are barefoot in the lawn).

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Pollinators Paradise Project @ Art Crawl!

We have been busy making Seedball Hearts as part of a fundraiser for December's Art Crawl

We'll be at Evergreen's Community Holiday Marketplace
Friday December 11th, 2015
Seedball Hearts filled with locally-sourced seeds-  all pollinator friendly!
294 James Street North from 6pm-10pm
selling homemade, locally-sourced seedball hearts - a great stocking stuffer! 

All the money raised will go back into our Pollinators Paradise Project to create more pollinator habitats across the City.

Hope to see you there!

For details, contact Juby at