P.E.I. looks to create bee-friendly habitats

Sally
Sally Cole
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Stephanie Compton, agrologist for the Morell River Watershed Co-op, says bees are essential for life on the planet and Islanders can create bee-friendly habitats with simple practices.

Agrologist says Islanders can help tiny insects that are vital for life on the planet

Behold the bee.

This tiny insect is often overlooked by urban dwellers.

But in the rural world, this powerhouse pollinator is a superstar of sorts, essential to survival.

“One-third of the food we eat needs to be pollinated. But, it’s even more than that because we don’t count the food that some of our livestock eats that needs to be pollinated, like alfalfa. So not only is it critical for our survival but for life, as we know it, on the planet,” says Stephanie Compton, agrologist for the Morell River Watershed Co-op, and a wild blueberry farmer.

Prince Edward Islanders can create bee-friendly habitats by following simple practices.

“Bees need four things in our environment. They need suitable nest sites that appeal to the type of living conditions that each species requires. They need a food source, which means they need to have flowers blooming during their life cycle.

“They also need a source of fresh water. That’s most important. They can’t make their bee pollen, bread or honey without water,” says Compton, adding that people need to be mindful of what bees require.

“Sometimes the water source may be there but they may not be able to access it. So choose a source, like a birdbath that has a piece of bark floating in it, so bees can land on it and carefully drink from the water.”

At her home in Savage Harbour, Compton uses a hose, with a pinhole leak, that sprays a little water all over the grass.

“The bees will land on the grass and lick the water drops. You can also plant a lady’s mantle, which has dewdrops that land on it. It’s also a great source for pollinators to drink.”

The fourth and final consideration for native bees is to keep the area free of chemicals that might cause them harm.

Sitting on a park bench in front of Province House, she studies the bees flying from flower to flower, in the gardens.

“We’ve identified four different bees in this urban area but bees can live in almost any environment.”

Many of our native bees are ground-nesting bees so if we have undisturbed areas of our property, that we basically leave alone, this species will be quite happy to make their homes there.

“Larger bees, like bumble bees, are cavity-nesting bees, and sometimes they can be problematic, because they live in a space in a wall in our garage or under our doorstep. So, we have to block off those areas so bees can’t get in but provide other cavities, like a rock pile in the garden, would be suitable for bumble bees.

“By providing flowering plants, a pollen source for native bees, everyone can help.”

 

scole@theguardian.pe.ca 

Organizations: Morell River Watershed Co, Province House

Geographic location: Savage Harbour

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