What's the buzz? Brandon asks people to vote for city's official bee

Bee City Brandon asking Manitobans to help select Wheat City's official bee. The queen bee will be crowned at the conclusion of Pollinator Week at the end of June.

Contest hopes to bring awareness to the importance of pollinators in Manitoba's Wheat City

The orange-belted bumblebee is native to Manitoba. It is one of the bees in the running to be named Brandon's official bee. (Sherry Punak-Murphy)

There's a sweet competition happening in Brandon, and the goal is to find the southwestern Manitoba city's official bee.

Bee City Brandon —  a group dedicated to creating pollinator habitats and educating Brandonites on bees — kicked off online voting to name an official bee on June 1, giving people three to choose from.

Sherry Punak-Murphy, the chair of Bee City Brandon, says her organization selected bees that are native to Brandon.

"We picked three different bee species that people would be able to find in their home gardens."

People can select from the orange-belted bumblebee, the leafcutter bee and the green sweat bee.

The leafcutter bee is native to Manitoba. It is known for its solitary nature. (Bees In Your Backyard)

In 2018, Brandon was designated an official bee city by Bee City Canada, after the national organization and the City of Brandon applied for the designation.

It is the only city in Manitoba to have that distinction.

Punak-Murphy says as a designated bee city, Brandon supports the education and promotion of pollinators throughout the city.

"They provide so many different things. Over a thousand different plants are grown for food that rely totally on pollinators," she said.

That includes foods like apples, bananas, blueberries, coffee, chocolate and potatoes.  

"All of that cannot grow unless you have a pollinator that pollinated the plants."

The green sweat bee gets its name from being attracted to human sweat. The bees use the salt from sweat for nutrition. They are are native to Manitoba. (Bees In Your Backyard)

Punak-Murphy says people should think about growing plants that attract pollinators, and do their part to help out these helpful critters.  

"I'm hoping that people will think before they use chemicals in their yard," she said.

"I haven't met anybody … who doesn't think a bee is a cool insect."

In Manitoba, there are over 300 species of bees, Punak-Murphy said, adding people are often amazed to learn that our province is home to so many.

"Most people think it's bumblebees or honeybees, and it's a heck of a lot more than that."

Brandon Mayor Rick Chrest jokes the contest to name an official bee is appropriate for a city known as "B-Town."

"I've got to study these three species and make my choice shortly," he said.

Sherry Punak-Murphy is the chair of Bee City Brandon. Also known as the organization's 'queen bee,' Punak-Murphy says there are over 300 different species of bees that live in Manitoba. (Submitted by Sherry Punak-Murphy)

Punak-Murphy hopes her pick ends up flying away with the title.

"My favourite is the shiny metallic green sweat bee."

She says the contest isn't just open to Brandonites — anyone in Manitoba can vote.

Voting closes on June 28 — the end of Pollinator Week.  


Marjorie Dowhos is the host of CBC Manitoba's Radio Noon. She is an RTNDA award-winning reporter. Marjorie joined CBC Manitoba in 2010. Prior to that, she was an anchor, reporter and videojournalist in Thunder Bay, Ont., Medicine Hat, AB., Fort McMurray, AB., and Fort St. John, B.C. Marjorie is also the host of the CBC podcast 'Jets Stream'.


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