Bee-friendly gardens will help save declining bee populations, according to American conservationist Mace Vaughan.
“Everybody at home can plant a beautiful garden full of beautiful flowers, whether they’re native wildflowers or ornamental plants that feed bees,” Vaughan said.
The Oregon-based pollinator conservation director at the Xerces Society is in Kelowna to speak at the Border Free Bees Symposium.
If everyone helps in a small way, pollinators such as bees, will have a better chance of survival, Vaughan said.
“Even if you can go out there and plant a couple of lavenders or in the springtime, plant some sunflowers so that you’ve got these beautiful flowers in your yard that are attractive but also where you’ll see bees and butterflies coming along to feed on those flowers,” he said.
About 35 per cent of worldwide crop production, which is together valued at $215 billion, depends on bees, according to Vaughan.
“One in three bites of food that we eat depends on a pollinator,” Vaughan said.
Vaughan was invited to speak at a weekend-long event that has attracted local, national and international collaborators who are working to save bees and promote better habitat creation and preservation.
“What’s hard for me is that they’re still in decline,” Vaughan said of bees. “We’re still losing bees. Beekeepers are still losing 30 to 40 to 45 per cent of their bees. If we look at bumblebees, some of our native species in Canada or in the United States, 25 to 30 per cent of bumblebee species are still in decline, are still heading toward extinction.”
“If we think about butterflies, even common butterflies like the Monarch that people see as this iconic species are declining. Their numbers are going down,” Vaughan said.
A number of factors have contributed to the decline of pollinators, including “loss of habitat, exposure to pesticides, diseases. But everybody can create more of that habitat. Even if it’s little it can still have a really big effect,” he said.
Border Free Bees has projects in B.C.’s Lower Mainland, the U.S. and Mexico.
“We are a bunch of artists and we decided that we need to start translating all that great research into really accessible information for the public,” Nancy Holmes, associate professor of creative writing at UBC Okanagan said.
Holmes organized the weekend bee symposium.
“We use community engagement, practices, community art practices, public art practices and we translate that great knowledge that is out there to the community so that the community can feel really empowered to help conserve these amazing creatures: the wild bees,” she said.
For more information about the symposium, check out the Border Free Bees website here.