Food for bees
The Food For Bees initiative promotes the planting of bee forage on public and private lands, to support wild pollinator populations.
Bees and other pollinating insects are important for the pollination of plants and food crops that produce fruits, seeds and forage for animal feed. They also play a key role in maintaining a healthy environment.
Studies have shown that an abundance and diversity of nectar and pollen bearing plants enhance pollinator populations. This in turn, supports greater biodiversity and a healthier sustainable environment. It is expected that after a few years of implementation, many areas will show increases in pollinator abundance and species diversity.
Selecting bee forage plants
Some plants are highly attractive to bees because they offer pollen and nectar which bees need to reproduce, support their brood and survive the winter. These types of plants are commonly called “bee forage”. When selecting bee forage for bees, choose plants suitable for the climate, soil and water conditions. Also consider the physical environment of the planting location and its attractiveness in the landscape design.
Shortages of food for bees
During the last few decades, populations of pollinator insects have been declining in many parts of the world, especially in agricultural areas. Since pollinators play an important role in the environment, they are regarded as “indicator species”; declines in their abundance and diversity signify that the environment is under stress and may become unsustainable in the future.
Many factors have contributed to pollinator declines, including agricultural activity, exposure to pollutants, destruction of undisturbed vegetation, habitat fragmentation, alteration of soils and ground water, and climate change. Not only have pollinators declined, the combined effects of these factors have often resulted in an overall loss of biodiversity of many local habitats. To counteract such trends, wild pollinator populations should be enhanced where possible.
Studies have shown that one major contributing factor to pollinator losses is the temporary shortage of floral food sources during the summer season. Large acreages of single crops (mono-cropping) and removal of undisturbed vegetation have sharply reduced forage availability in agricultural areas while established landscape practices in urban areas have often created local habitats void of food for bees, or 'bee forage'. The temporary lack of forage availability results in reduced reproductive rates of wild pollinators and in some cases has led to starvation.
How to help the bees
The Food For Bees initiative seeks the voluntary involvement of public and private institutions including provincial government, public agencies, school districts, municipalities, districts, farmers and mining companies involved in reclamation projects.The retail nursery sector is also encouraged to reach out to consumers and provide educational information about choosing bee-friendly plants. YOU can make a difference!
Crop producers can effectively counteract food shortages for wild pollinators by dedicating small strips of land along the edge of fields, along ditches and berms for the planting of nectar and pollen-bearing plants that bloom throughout the summer season.
Land reclamation planners
Planners in the public and private sectors who are involved in the reclamation of forestry, mining and industrial sites can incorporate plantings of indigenous and endemic plants that provide summer forage for bees, while naturalizing the site.
Gardeners and landscapers
Home gardeners and urban landscapers can include bee-friendly plants into residential and commercial landscapes.