Welcome to my new Plan Bee Now! website www.planbeenow.ca focused on ending bee pollinator decline, a serious ecological tragedy that threatens future food security and ecological health. Our mission is simple: more bees and bee habitat wherever it can be put back. We must accelerate the rate at which action is taken so we choose to work with land owners directly and not governments and corporations, at first. Our concern is the 450 species of native bees in BC that can function as an pollination insurance hedge in case the honey bee disappears. I have separate blogs on our native bees later including photos, links and videos.
However it is important to note that governments around the world are not taken bee decline casually and are actively building infrastructure and budgets to turn this potential ecological tragedy around, investing millions of dollars. My LINKS section provides lots of sources for verification that bee decline is serious and needs immediate attention. In Canada, it is the Canadian Pollination Initiative, in the USA it is the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign and Pollinator Partnership. In Europe it is STEP, Status and Trends of European Pollinators. There are now international groups stepping up to the plate to save bees as fast as we can.
To turn bee decline around and protect and enhance natural resources to bring our bees back requires massive public education and that is our first priority. Then we need hands on instruction in bee conservation and bee plant garden construction which we provide in our workshops and education materials to give you “eyes to see” our local bee pollinators and an understanding of their needs. Technical content is based on extensive ongoing networking with beekeepers and bee researchers in the field across Canada and in the Pacific Northwest guiding my own education, training and experience working with the different kinds of bees that we need to save. Registration for these workshops and education materials will soon be on-line.
The next huge activity is to nurture bees everywhere by putting back 1000’s of acres of bee forage. To facilitate this goal we have done lengthy research on the plants and seed that power up the different groups of bees since not all plants are good for bees. Ideally these need to be planted as complete bee gardens which we will offer for sale on our website. Native plants are very important for conserving the complete native bee diversity we have in BC. To validate public effort we are arranging the construction of several larger demonstration bee gardens working closely with seniors groups, parks departments, schools, and youth organizations etc.
Finally we will begin to create an amateur bee alert network to monitor our local native bee species, and important bee habitat locations. I am working on an easy guide to identifying our bumble bee species this summer largely using bee identification guides already on the internet. Please indicate your interest in participating in our workshops and amateur bee watch activities by email or on our blogging site at www.planbeenow.ca/ , a way to keep you up to date and in touch with the experts in the field. Though Plan Bee now is well networked with all stakeholders in the bee conservation movement, we are not linked with any particular government department, corporation or institution at this time neither do we have any significant funding yet to do this work. Our success is measured by the cumulative acres of habitat in cities, farmland and industrial jurisdictions and numbers and diversity of native bees that we put back on the planet over the next decade.
I want to emphasize that saving bees is not just a nice fuzzy thing to do. It is absolutely necessary for future sustainable food production and ecological health. Dr. Laurence Packer, University of York, Toronto In his recent book, Saving the Bees-Why all bees are at risk (2010), makes it quite clear “if all bees [our native bees and the honey bee] died out, there would be worldwide food shortages and perhaps one-quarter of the human population would starve.” He goes on to explain that “in absence of bees, most plants would not persist for very long…” so that “the loss of all the bees would result in catastrophic cascades through the terrestrial ecosystems of the world. If many of the flowering plants were to disappear, the other species that relay upon those plants would also be in trouble… So the impact of bees extends throughout the food web-even to us”. I have some stories and graphics to share on this later.