Pollinator conservation area aims to save bees directly, and through education

Pollinator conservation area aims to save bees directly, and through education

Bees’ survival is challenged around the world, but action is being taken to help them in Langley

By Bob Groeneveld/Langley Advance Times

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The bees need help.

Without bees, BC’s agriculture industry would practically collapse, but they often struggle to survive in our increasingly urbanized environment.

A Langley bee enthusiast has a plan to help bees not only to survive, but to thrive.

Carolyn Essaunce’s plan, a component of which is a new pollinator conservation area near 248th Street and 72nd Avenue in Langley, goes beyond helping bees directly.

She wants to educate people, to promote “bee corridors” throughout urban areas.

The pollinator conservation area, an acre of land provided by Melanie MacInnes of MacInnes Farms, will be a place to “learn how you can do things on a small scale” to effect large-scale survival of local bee populations, said Essaunce, who is with the Honest to Goodness Farm Co.

Honest to Goodness is “hardscaping” (drainage, landscape reshaping, etc.) the land and bringing in necessary soil.

Langley Environmental Partners Society (LEPS) is also on board, providing volunteers to bring the project to reality.

“They are amazing, with the things they have done in Langley,” Essaunce said of LEPS.

A $5,000 grant from the provincial BeeBC Program will pay for the plants needed encourage the bees, said Essaunce.

Hardscaping is being done right now.

Essaunce hopes to start planting by late April.

Plants chosen for the project include “everything: trees, flowers, herbs, all pollen and nectar sources,” she said, adding that the focus will be on trees and plants that flower and serve foraging bees during summer drought periods and other times “when there’s not a lot going on for them.”

The conservation area will include elements that will encourage bees to build nests, things like mud puddles and rotting trees – and even mushroom habitat, because certain mycelia play a role in bee health, Essaunce explained.

When it’s completed, the site will encourage education through a marked path that will include benches and informative plaques encouraging visitors to create spaces for pollinators on their own land as well.

“We wouldn’t have an agricultural industry without bees. We need them. It’s critical. And bees are facing challenges around the globe,” said Lana Popham, BC Minister of Agriculture. “It’s awesome to see BeeBC funding help with those challenges and support communities as they find solutions to support bees.”

“Initiatives like BeeBC are perfect for encouraging people to step outside their comfort zones and do something positive for pollinators,” noted Essaunce. “A pollinator conservation area creates a space where all the beneficial insects have a safe space to nest and exist, everybody wins.”

BeeBC is promoting bee-friendly projects through the cooperation of beekeepers in both the Fraser and Nicola Valleys.