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PHOTOS: Expert visits Aldergrove to share tips on supporting local pollinators year-round

Daisies, lavender, goldenrod, and other native plants make great bee food

There are more than 500 species of bees in B.C. alone, which is more than there are birds in all of Canada.

That’s the first thing Professor Elizabeth Elle wants us to remember during the warmer months, who came out to Aldergrove for an information session about local pollinators on Saturday, May 11, hosted by the Langley Bee Club vice president Bryn Jones.

“Bees are crucial to human health and food security,” Jones said.

He noted that bees are widely held responsible for one-third of the food we eat, and that global warming is greatly impacting our local pollinators.

“[As] global warming gets worse, bees diminish and their habitats disappear. The pollination they provide [that] enhances plant growth decreases,” Jones explained. “The plant growth enhancement they produce helps develop plant roots and soil water retention, [reducing] fire risks.”

Elle said the average or beginner gardener can plant native plants in their garden or in pots on a balcony is a great way to support the local pollinators throughout the year.

“Our pollinators are active all year… so you need things that are blooming throughout the year,” Elle noted.

For early spring, she recommends planting Oregon Grape and red-flowering currant.

“Very popular with bees mid-season are Pacific dogwood, snowberry, ocean spray, these are all shrubs. We have some native roses that are amazing too,” she explained.

In the late season, goldenrod, sunflowers, and asters are great for bees. And gardeners can never go wrong with lavender, Elle laughed.

“Anything that is like a cooking herb, such as thyme or basil, you’ll see it covered with pollinators.”

“Bees are active and they need food now. If you have a diversity of things that flower all throughout the year, you’re going to be supporting the greatest amount of diversity,” Elle said.

Contrary to popular opinion, Elle said mowing on a biweekly basis helps the bees more than not mowing or mowing regularly.

“If you don’t mow, you have really tall grass which is not a good habitat for bees and you’d be encouraging some Eurasian weeds. If you mow every other week, you have more diversity of weeds like dandelions that are good bee food,” she explained.

B.C. bumble bees, unlike species in Ontario or Quebec, don’t actually live under the leaves left on our lawns.

Instead, Elle said they are underground in crevices or abandoned holes of small animals or other insects.

“Leave the leaves makes sense in a deciduous forest, but much of British Columbia is a coniferous forest, [and] it doesn’t fit with the biology here. You should still leave them, but leave them for the right reasons – it’s nutrients for your soil, it’s god for flora and fauna.”

After a tour around Jones’ property and identifying the various types of bees just on his Aldergrove property, Jones demonstrated how to care for a honeybee hive.

Learn more at langleybeeclub.org.

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Kyler Emerson

About the Author: Kyler Emerson

I'm excited to start my journalism career in Langley and meet our community.
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