Hear the Buzz? Toronto is Canada's First Bee City
Have you heard that Toronto has become the first Bee City in Canada? According to the Bee City Canada Website, by becoming a "Bee City", Toronto will help raise the profile of the pollinator protection movement in Canada. This couldn't have come at a better time, as the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) recently published a study on the vital importance of pollinators to our food supply. According to IPBES, pollinators are under threat for various reasons including aggressive agriculture and pesticide use, invasive species, diseases and pests, and climate change. Seventy-five percent of the world's crops depend on pollination and we have to take action now to stop the extinction of pollinators.
Bees are an often misunderstood and feared creature. Frequently confused with wasps, bees have gotten a bad reputation. Bees are fascinating. Did you know that there are more than 20,000 different bee species in the world, with over 350 species found in the City of Toronto alone? Or that not all bees are black and yellow? As a child I remember running away at the sight of anything black and yellow, and I must admit that until very recently I had no idea that wild bees were in fact bees, and not some type of fly. Bees are one of the most important pollinators, and an essential part of our ecosystem. Teaching children about bees is a great way to help them learn about conservation as well as helping them to face their fears.
Three Easy Ways you Can Help Bees
- Plant a variety of native plants that flower at different times of the year -- this is a great family activity and a good way to involve the kids.
- Create a water garden with plants bees can land on when they drink -- have your kids help with the design!
- Avoid pesticides.
Great Books about Bees
There are so many fantastic books about bees that you can find at Toronto Public Library, here are a few suggestions:
Bees of Toronto: A Guide to Their Remarkable World
City of Toronto Biodiversity Series
One of the latest publications in the City of Toronto's Biodiversity series. You can pick up a free copy at most Toronto Public Library Branches while supplies last, or you can borrow a copy. The book is full of amazing information about bees, including tons of pictures to help you identify the different species, ideas on what types of flowers to plant, and ideas on how you can help the bee population. This book is for advanced readers, but is a great one to share with your kids.
Explore Honey Bees! With 25 Great Projects
Written by Cindy Blobaum
Illustrated by Bryan Stone
This book is full of interesting facts about honey bees, and includes all kinds of bee related activities. Learn about how bees see, smell and communicate.
Bear and Bee
Written and Illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier
A cute and simple story about a developing friendship between a Bear and Bee, where Bear discovers that Bees are not terrible scary monsters.
Big City Bees
Written by Maggie de Vries
Illustrated by Renné Benoit
Sophie and Matthew plant a garden in the city, and watch and wait for the bees to come and pollinate their plants. In a picture book style format, this book talks about the important role bees have in the growth of our food, and describes how the bees do their work.