In return, these pollination powerhouses rely on nutritious and diverse forage, the decline of which has resulted in poor honey bee health and reduced native bee populations.
While establishing pollinator habitat around farm operations can help increase bee resistance to parasites, disease and the effects of pesticide exposure, there is poor uptake in most farm landscapes due to a lack of local research and best management practices.
With funding through the Bee BC Program, Pollinator Partnership Canada (P2C) introduced the Blenkinsop Meadow Restoration Project to enhance wild bee habitat and forage in Victoria, while providing a model for future pollinator restoration projects.
In collaboration with partners like the Peninsula Streams Society, Saanich Native Plants Nursery and local secondary schools, P2C planted a half-acre native plant pollinator meadow in a highly visible urban/agricultural area, and continues to monitor pollinator activity and collect data to inform best management practices.
According to project coordinator Dr. Lora Morandin, creating awareness and recruiting volunteers from the local community and schools was essential to the project’s success, resulting in more than 50 community members planting over 2,000 native plants and seeds, and more than 40 students assisting with planting, maintenance and pollinator monitoring.
Workshops were also developed to educate students on issues regarding native bee and honey bee health, the importance of pollinators, and bee identification and monitoring including a citizen science technique used to track bee abundance and diversity. Alongside the project team, select students also participated in monthly observations to gather pre-restoration baseline data on the existing pollinator community at the site.