British Columbia

B.C. wild bees in decline, urgent action needed, says expert

If you want to help British Columbia's wild bees, plant a garden.

Elizabeth Elle says planting a bee-friendly garden is the simplest way to help declining bee populations

Certain species of wild bees in British Columbia are declining in population due to habitat degradation, says one SFU expert. (Matthias A. Fürst)

If you want to help British Columbia's wild bees, plant a garden.

That's the message Elizabeth Elle, a professor of community and evolutionary ecology at Simon Fraser University, tried to get across at a recent presentation to Metro Vancouver about the decline of wild bees due to habitat loss and pesticide use.

"One out of three bites you eat is thanks to the bee," Elle told The Early Edition's Rick Cluff.

"Sometimes that's attributed to the honeybee, but we actually know that's not true. Wild bees contribute quite a lot to our crop production."

Elle says wild bees are also essential to the ecosystem because they pollinate plants that produce fruits, nuts and seeds — food that birds, bears and other animals rely on to survive.

B.C. is home to roughly 450 species of bees. While not all of them have been assessed, the Western bumblebee has declined precipitously just within the last 15 to 20 years because of habitat degradation, said Elle.

To help stem the decline of wild bees, Elle says people can simply plant a garden filled with plants that produce pollen and nectar throughout the growing season, like rhododendrons, lavender and snowberries.

However, stay away from flowers like begonias and petunias because they don't produce much food for bees, said Elle. Invasive species like the Himalayan blackberry are also a problem.

"We could do with a little bit less of it because the problem with a monoculture like that is it only blooms for short period, like the month of June," Elle said. "Pollinators are out from now until October."

To hear more about how you can help wild bees, listen to the audio labelled: What you can do to get wild bees buzzing


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