Kamloops to become B.C.'s first Bee City

Kamloops is the first city in B.C. and the third in Canada to earn the designation. It will now work to create healthy ecosystems for bees throughout the city.

'We really want to promote pride in our city and be a leader'

One of the dominant pollinators of red clover found throughout B.C. is the buff-tailed bumble bee. (Maj Rundlöf/Science)

Kamloops city hall was all abuzz Tuesday afternoon after council unanimously approved a motion to designate Kamloops a Bee City.

It will be the first city in B.C. to make the designation and the third Canadian city after Toronto and Chestermere, Alta., which commits businesses and community organizations to doing as much as they can to create healthy ecosystems for bees.

The motion was brought forward by Lisa Strachan with Tourism Kamloops and supported by Glenn Grant, the executive director of the B.C. Wildlife Park and co-chair of Communities in Bloom.

Glenn Grant with the B.C. Wildlife Park and Communities in Bloom and Lisa Strachan with Tourism Kamloops are spearheading the project. (CBC)

Strachan believes the designation will give people in Kamloops a sense of pride. "To go out and say we're a Bee City ... for us, it would set us apart."

Grant agrees. 

In an interview with Daybreak Kamloops host Shelley Joyce, he said, "We want to be the leader that everybody says, 'look at what Kamloops is doing, we should follow them.' That's part of our motivation. We want to be the first."

'A huge transformation across this country'

The city will now focus on planting flowers that are bee friendly and create more green space.

Tourism Kamloops has plans to plant an edible garden to attract bees at the visitor centre and the B.C. Wildlife Park will plant a pollinator garden next to its bee hive this spring.

A bee-friendly garden includes "plants that are native, that have been here for thousands of years," according to Shelly Candel, the founder of Bee City Canada. (CBC)

Shelly Candel started Bee City Canada in early 2016 and wants to see the program grow.

"We'd like to go across the whole country in cities, college campuses and schools," Candel said.

"Imagine if we all changed how we thought about our gardens, if we decided we don't want green grass but we want pollinator gardens. It would be a huge transformation across this country in a very short period of time."

'We can help educate the residents of Kamloops'

Pollinators are struggling across Canada and around the world, and a decline in their numbers could have significant consequences for food production.

An estimated 85 percent of flowering plants, including fruits and vegetables, depend on these pollinators.

Threats to their survival include habitat loss, pesticide use, climate change, spread of diseases and a lack of diverse pollen and nectar-rich flowers to feed on.

"The biggest reason for bee decline is habitat loss," said Grant. "That's one area where we can help out and we can help educate the residents of Kamloops on what to do to make sure the bee population thrives."

Candel hopes Kamloops will serve as a role model for other B.C. cities and towns.

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