WHY DO BEES MATTER?
One out of every three bites of food that we eat is made possible by pollinators like honey bees. As the growers of most of our food, Canadian farmers know how much we all rely on these pollinators. Statistics Canada data shows the number of beekeepers and honey bee hives in our country is on the rise, but there are still a number of factors contributing to honey bee health issues.
Bees Matter is an initiative to restate agriculture’s commitment to honey bees and bring knowledge to the Canadian public about how they can get involved and help honey bees thrive.
HONEY BEE LEARNING CENTRE
An important part of supporting honey bees is knowing why we owe so much to these powerful pollinators. To learn more about honey bees, visit the Honey Bee Learning Centre or jump to a specific section below:
Just like farmers, honey bees need to be able to feed their communities. One of their biggest challenges, though, is being able to find enough pollen to do it. To help them, we launched the Buzzing Gardens program, dedicated to educating Canadians on how to make their own pollinator-friendly gardens.
Buzzing Gardens help to improve the number and quality of honey bee food sources, and support them in feeding their hives.
Statistics Canada data shows the number of honey bee hives in Canada is on the rise. They still face a number of health issues, however, and one of their major challenges is finding and collecting food. A third of their life is spent flying to find flowers with pollen they can bring back to their hive. Every honey bee contributes, and by pollinating such a diverse range of plants, they also contribute to the success of our communities. Though our crops and gardens provide food for them, we can also help increase the number of nutritious food sources at home!
Read more about how important honey bees are to our country in our Learning Centre.
About the program
Nutritious seeds for healthy honey bees
Supporting honey bee health means making sure that hives all over Canada are within flying distance of a wide variety of flowers that they can visit, giving them the nutrition they need to survive our cold, harsh winters.
Number of seed kits in our top-three planting cities: Toronto, Montreal and Calgary
Of a worker honey bee's life is spent collecting pollen and nectar to bring back to the hive
A SPECIAL SELECTION
Here is a selection of five non-invasive varieties of flowering plants that are native to Canada and recommended by Pollinator Partnership Canada, as they are attractive and nourishing for honey bees.
Roll over the flowers to learn more.
Dense Blazing Star
A tall, thickly flowering plant, the dense blazing star grows long spikes of clustered purple flowers. The dense blazing star grows wild across eastern Canada, but thrives in gardens across the country as an ornamental perennial that returns even after a harsh winter. With a tough stalk and numerous flowers, it’s an ideal plant to attract and foster pollinators.
With bright yellow flowers, the lance-leaved coreopsis is a low-growing perennial that thrives in the hot, late summer all across North America. The state flower of Florida, lance-leaved coreopsis isn’t just an attractive plant for honey bees, but also a food source for caterpillars. Lance-leaved coreopsis, like the New England aster, is from the family Asteraceae, named for their flowers’ star shape.
New England Aster
A highly varied species, the New England aster has more than 50 different cultivars with distinct colours, sizes and shapes. Every flower, however, has several long and straight petals that centre on a yellow floret. Flourishing in bright sunlight, the New England aster can grow to four feet tall and provide a generous amount of pollen for honey bees.
From the same genus as the lance-leaf coreopsis, the golden tickseed has a unique and unmistakable blossom of rich red surrounded by bright yellow and surrounding a speckled floret at its centre. The deep red of the petals was once used as a dye by Southwestern Native Americans. Also called “calliopsis,” the plant thrives in both full sun and partial shade.
A perennial flower, sneezeweed is named for a historical medicinal use of its dried flowers to induce sneezing when inhaled. Its genus, however, is named for Helen of Troy and reflects its bright yellow blossoms. The sneezeweed is tolerant of drought, and enjoys full sun. When flowering, the tall stalks grow large spherical florets well-loved by butterflies and honey bees.
Buzzing Gardens Partners
FROM HONEY BEE TO TABLE
In recent years, farmers and scientists have worked more closely with beekeepers to keep their hives healthy. Whether this has meant developing new products to benefit honey bees or changing the way they use current products to better protect honey bees, the results have been innovative and collaborative strategies to mitigate risk.
But farmers aren’t just protecting honey bees. They’re also providing honey bees with pollen. Canola, for example, is one of the best flowering plants for bees, with a balance of protein and amino acids necessary to support a healthy hive. In many cases, beekeepers and farmers have a mutually beneficial relationship in which the bees, like livestock, are brought to the farm in order to graze on the pollen of the farm.
HISTORY OF HONEY BEES IN CANADA
Where there are flowers, there are honey bees. Every spring we take for granted that we’ll find them in our gardens and parks. But did you know the honey bee isn’t native to Canada? Honey bees were brought here from England, and although bee populations and honey production are on the rise they haven’t always had the easiest time coping in the place we call home.
Bees Matter is a partnership of agricultural organizations with a vested interest in pollinator health. The mission of the group is to provide a platform for conversation, dialogue and information sharing regarding modern agriculture and the importance of ensuring a healthy environment for honey bees, which play an important role in Canadian food production and agriculture.
Honey bees are imported from England to Virginia for honey production, and soon spread north to Canada. Here, both wild colonies and farmed honey hives began to spread over the next two hundred years.