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Boosting the local buzz: bee workshop this Saturday

The walk is Saturday, Aug. 21 at 10:30 a.m., meeting at the hatchery and walking to the meadow. It costs $20.

Vancouver Island bee steward Myriam Parent is offering a native bees workshop on Bowen this Saturday.

The following Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.

What is a bee steward? 

Someone who’s done the bee stewardship course with Island Pollinator Initiative – a B.C., not for profit agency who does a lot of work advocating for restoration and regulation around protecting and promoting native pollinators in Canada. 

How did you come to do bee stewardship?

I’ve always been interested in bees, but they were not really on my mind. And then the pandemic happened – the shutdown in March. There was a vacant lot a couple of blocks away from my house and I thought maybe I could start a boulevard garden in front of that lot. One of my best friends lives a little bit further down the street, so this garden site would be the halfway point between our houses. I thought if we start a garden together, it’d be a nice way to stay connected and distance physically, and do something meaningful together. So I started a pollinator garden. It was very intentional but I didn’t know anything about bees really, at that point, and plants.

So what is Saturday’s event?

It’s going to be a one-hour, very well-rounded, educational workshop.  During that workshop, we’re going to learn about how to identify native bees, learn about their social behaviours, their nesting habits. We’re going to hopefully spend time looking at them and watching their behaviour in person. Hopefully, we have a chance to observe them firsthand in the meadow. Also practical ideas as to how to create habitats for native pollinators. What I’m promoting is how to create habitat for native bees. Because they need to live somewhere and they have nowhere to live right now.

What’s something you want folks to understand about bees? 

Bees are really, really, really vital for our ecosystem, because plants have evolved with them. The vast majority of flowering plants depend on native bees to exist. The entire ecosystem actually depends on their relationship with plants. The good news is that it’s really easy to create habitat for them. And because they’re tiny, they don’t need a lot of space. These plants that attract them, they’re not hard to find. If you know what you’re doing, within the year, you can really see the native bee population increase. So it’s really a wonderful process to bring the bees closer to home and get a chance to spend time with them. If you create something that makes sense for them, they will come right away. It doesn’t take long to make a big impact on the bee population.

The walk is Saturday, Aug. 21 at 10:30 a.m., meeting at the hatchery and walking to the meadow. It costs $20 and one can email to reserve a spot.