Guelph eyes Bee City designation ahead of 'pollinator event' at city hall

Guelph only needs city council's sign-off at it's June 25 meeting to apply to become a designated Bee City.

Council to vote on whether to apply to become Bee City on June 25

Guelph needs city council's sign-off at its June 25 meeting to apply to become a designated Bee City. (Adam Wyld/Canadian Press)

Guelph hopes to join the ranks of Kitchener and Waterloo to become a designated Bee City.

The city had already committed to protect pollinator habitats throughout the city, when they built it into their official plans in March.

Now, city council will have to sign off on the decision to apply to Bee City Canada to become a designated Bee City.

That is supposed to happen at council's June 25 meeting.

"Then we will immediately submit the application, and we are a shoo-in because we are exactly what Bee City Canada is looking for," said David Beaton, supervisor of trails and natural areas stewardship at the City of Guelph.

"Becoming a Bee City is a great way for Guelph to demonstrate our commitment and celebrate and showcase our successes," he said. "We are a community that is passionate about pollinators."

The city committed to protect, maintain and enhance pollinator habitats throughout the city.

The official plan defines pollinator habitats as natural areas that contain indigenous plants, shrubs and trees that provide pollen, nectar and other resources for pollinators.

The habitats may also provide nesting sites, including soil, rotting logs, cavity trees, hollow-stemmed plants and host plants.

"It's a fantastic expansive policy that helps us help the pollinators within the city," said Beaton.

Riverside Park in Guelph, shown here, has a demonstration pollinator garden. It provides a model for others on how to create their own pollinator habitats. (Submitted by David Beaton.)

'If you've eaten today, you can thank a pollinator'

Guelph must apply to Bee City Canada, a federally registered charitable organization, for the designation.

But Beaton said that this is about more than just bees. Wild bees, introduced honey bees, flies, butterflies and other insect and animal pollinators are all part of being a Bee City.

"If you've eaten today, you can thank a pollinator," he said. "It is absolutely important that we do our best to protect the pollinators that support our natural ecosystems and food production."

Pollinators are under constant attack from loss of habitat as well as loss of food sources, and climate change is making some things worse, Beaton said.

The Ontario Beekeepers Association published survey results in May that showed 32 per cent of 900 beekeepers who responded experienced unsustainable losses this past winter — some losing more than 70 per cent or more of their hives.

Beaton said Guelph is a major leader in pollinator habitat initiatives and public education, and the city provides resources on pollination online.

On Tuesday, June 12 at 5 p.m., the City of Guelph and Pollination Guelph are co-hosting a pollinator event in Market Square at City Hall. The public can attend a presentation on creating pollinator habits at home.

Children can help stuff a bee hotel. The bee hotel will then be installed on the green roof at City Hall.

If Guelph's city council signs the Bee City resolution and their application is successful, Guelph will join Kitchener and Waterloo as designated Bee Cities.

Kitchener and Waterloo will both recognize International Pollinator Week, June 18 to 24 with several events and activities. 

Ontario beekeepers are struggling this year after a difficult winter. Hives like this one at the University of Guelph's Bee Research Centre are suffering after prolonged weather issues. (Carmen Ponciano/ CBC)