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This article was published 8/5/2018 (1306 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Brandon City Council passed a resolution on Monday to join the Bee City Canada movement.
As an official "Bee City," Brandon will assign a city staff member to the initiative, which includes launching a subcommittee. In addition, the city must host at least one public education and habitat establishment or restoration activity each year.
"I think it’s fantastic," said MelanieDubois, senior riparian and biodiversity biologist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. "We should have everything in place to go forward, and have a really good celebration for Pollinator Week in June."
Dubois and Sherry Punak-Murphy recently appeared at a city council meeting, urging the city to get the Bee City designation.
"I think it provides a really good forum for people to learn more about bees and to help the pollinators out in our area," she said.
Population levels of more than 700 North American bee species are declining due to habitat destruction and pesticide use, according to a 2017 report titled "Pollinators in Peril," which was released by the U.S.-based Centre for Biological Diversity. Other major threats are climate change and urbanization.
"With more than 20,000 species globally, they are an essential component of functioning ecosystems," states the report. "Without their pollination services, many wild plants and cultivated crops would be unable to thrive. But bees are declining across the planet, with more than 40 percent of insect pollinators — primarily native bees — highly threatened."
The hope is that a Bee City designation will help expand the conversation about the importance of local food production, biodiversity, pollinator diversity and benefits of using native plants, Dubois said.
She noted they aren’t looking to facilitate domestic beekeeping, but rather looking to support native bees and native bee habitat.
"Planting of appropriate plants and … also encouraging people to build bee houses," she said. "They kind of look like a bundle of sticks really, within a frame, or it can be chunks of wood with holes drilled into them."
According to a report submitted by Lindsay Hargreaves, the city’s environmental initiatives co-ordinator, the Bee City Canada designation aligns with the city’s environmental strategic plan. One of the plan’s goals is to "lead by example, promote awareness and measure progress."
Hargreaves said becoming a Bee City would increase partnership opportunities in the community with schools, Assiniboine Food Forest, local garden clubs, Communities in Bloom and the Brandon Environment Committee, which are already doing their part to promote a pollinator-friendly environment.
"The Bee City subcommittee would provide educational opportunities, be a liaison for schools wanting to become Bee Schools and expertise to council when needed," states the report.
Coun. Jan Chaboyer (Green Acres) said it is an "incredible resolution" to get behind, as it pushes the city further along the path of environmental stewardship.
"I’m quite ecstatic and excited as a gardener that we’re going to be protecting the bees," she said.
The Bee City subcommittee will take part in Eco Day in May on May 26 and the Enviro Expo on June 5.
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