by Rogina Jabel
Bee City is a North American movement that began in Canada in 2015 and was inspired by a similar program in the United States called Bee City USA. The focus of the program is to mobilize cities, towns, and First Nations communities to develop initiatives that protect pollinators.
In February 2021, Hamilton joined the ranks of Toronto, Mississauga, Montreal, Calgary, and many more as the 39th city in Canada to be designated as a Bee City.
But why make such a big deal about bees and other pollinators?
It’s simple. Without them, our food supply would be seriously jeopardized and healthy ecosystems that clean the air would slowly collapse. Pollinators are small animals and insects like bees and birds that travel from one plant to another carrying pollen to the female part of the flower (stigma), which kicks start the pollination process enabling flowering plants to reproduce. According to pollinator.org, this nearly invisible process gives us fruits, vegetables, nuts, prevents soil erosion, and increases carbon sequestration.
This vital process requires attention and support. Pollinators need help! This is where programs like Bee City come in to ensure our pollinator friends are protected and properly sustained.
So, how did Hamilton become a Bee City? This was made possible by pollinator protection initiatives like The Hamilton Pollinator Paradise Project, which is a collaborative effort between the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club and Environment Hamilton. The Pollinator Paradise project assisted the City of Hamilton in applying for the Bee City Status, and continues to work with the City to meet Bee City’s deliverables. Additionally, the project intends to connect pollinator corridors across the city by creating pollinator habitats in both private and public spaces. This project couldn’t have come at a better time, especially now where several native bee populations are in decline and extinction risks by region and by species have been described by experts as “catastrophic” (Brown, 2019).
If this project sounds really exciting to you, you’re probably wondering how you can help! Well, you can start by planting native pollinating plants in your garden, and if you’ve already started you can apply for a free certification to acknowledge the awesome work you’re doing! Additionally, if you consider yourself a gardening master or know someone who is, you or your friend have the chance to win a Hamilton Monarch Award next year, which recognizes the efforts of several locals who have been long-time friends of pollinators through their garden, and have been practicing sustainable gardening.