How a college student advocated for her town of New Glasgow in Nova Scotia to become a Bee City

Written by Keeley Shipley

NAPPC Award Canada

From left to right; Rachel Mitchell, Ashley Kenney, Keeley Shipley, Brooke Barsness, Lilah Ross! 

 

My whole life I have enjoyed being outside and being immersed in nature, this is what ultimately sparked my passion for the environment and keeping it safe. In high school I was highly involved in the student council, in grade 11 I was the co-head of my school’s environmental club and in grade 12 I was a co-president of my school. During my time as co-head of the environmental club one of my friends introduced me to Bee City Canada.

Our school’s environmental team immediately hopped on board and decided to become a Bee School! However, my passion for the environment did not stop in my school, I also co-founded Pictou County Fridays for Future, a youth led organisation that educated and empowered the youth in my community to take a stand against climate change and work together to advocate for climate action! While working with my community through Pictou County Fridays for Future I was able to make connections within New Glasgow’s town
council, this is where I met Rachel Mitchell, the Climate Change Coordinator for the town of New Glasgow.

Shelly Candel Pollinator Partnership Award
Rachel and I along with other Fridays for Future members worked closely together and eventually we created the New Glasgow Youth Climate Council. Through this council I proposed that we make New Glasgow a Bee City. I had such a great experience working with Bee City in my high school and I thought it would be a great idea to get New Glasgow on board as well. Myself and four other members of Pictou County Fridays for Future/ New Glasgow’s Youth Climate Council, Tess Murray, Lilah Ross, Brooke Barsness and Ashley Kenney, planned a presentation to give at a town council meeting.
 
At this town council meeting we presented the benefits of becoming a pollinator friendly town and how important our bees are to our ecosystem, here we also proposed that New Glasgow should commit to becoming a pollinator friendly town by joining Bee City Canada. We had an amazing response from the town council and every single member raised their hands in agreement to join Bee City Canada and become a pollinator friendly town! It was such an amazing feeling to see so many people excited to create a healthier eco-system for our pollinators. I was definitely not expecting such a remarkable response from the council but it is very evident that my community is also very environmentally aware.
 
In Pictou County we have great recycling systems as well as education programs throughout communities and schools to teach the importance of recycling, composting and sustainability. I am definitely very lucky to have grown up in this community where the environment is cared for and many people make efforts to keep our green spaces healthy. One thing that I am extremely grateful for is Pictou County Solid Waste and Divert Nova Scotia. Without having grown up with these organisations’ involvement in my schools and community I would not be as educated and environmentally aware as I am today! I always thought there could be more ways for my community to take more action against climate change but after moving to a different province for University I have seen just how different recycling and climate action can look in different communities and overall I am very happy to say that my home town has some of the best ways of taking care of the environment.
I was shocked when I came to university and my school did not have a composting system nor did my residence have paper or bottle recycling options. After talking with my school’s climate change officer I found out that the new city I live in does not have composting and that is why my school cannot compost as well. I believe that Pictou County is in a good spot to continue to create the change needed to keep our environment healthy and combat climate change. As long as organisations such as Pictou County Fridays for Future, Pictou County Solid waste and the Youth Climate Council continue to educate others I believe that the county can make great progress in building an eco-friendly mindset among everyone in the community.
When I was 15 I helped start these movements within my community and now I am just weeks away from turning 19 and I am so proud of all of the youth who I have seen follow in my footsteps and spark change within their schools and communities. I truly believe that one person can make a huge difference and I am confident that Bee City has added another great chapter to Pictou County’s climate action plans!

It’s Time to #LeaveTheLeaves

One of the most valuable things you can do to support pollinators and other invertebrates is to provide them with the winter cover they need.

It may be habitual, a matter of social conditioning, or a holdover of outdated gardening practices from yesteryear—but for whatever reason, we just can’t seem to help ourselves from wanting to tidy up the garden at the end of the season—raking, mowing, and blowing away a bit of nature that is essential to the survival of native bees, moths, butterflies and dozens of other species.

Plenty of beneficial pollinators overwinter in gardens, using plants and debris that are left behind to survive. If you have a pollinator garden or have a garden filled with native flowering species that help pollinators during the summer and fall, leave them standing to provide cover through the winter.

Many native solitary bees spend the winter by nesting in the dry hollow stems of dormant plants. Others overwinter by burrowing into the ground or small holes in wood or make use of man-made bee hotels. Various species of butterflies and moths survive winter by hiding under garden debris such as dried leaves and twigs.

  • Leave the leaves where they fall. Leaf litter provides habitat, insulation, and protection for insect pollinators. It’s also a natural fertilizer for grass as leaves break down during the winter.
  • If you can’t leave all the leaves, rake lightly without disturbing the soil. Avoiding soil disturbance or rough handling of leaves will ensure that any hibernating insects stay buried and any butterflies or larvae sheltering under leaves are not killed.
  • Pile leaves over garden beds, around trees and shrubs, or in the corner of the yard. Keeping leaves intact will still provide pollinators like butterflies with shelter and overwintering sites.
  • Keep the leaves where they are until the weather warms and any pollinators using the leaves have emerged to start foraging. Bonus: leaves serve as natural mulch for your garden, so you can save pollinators AND money!
  • Explain to your neighbors how leaving the leaves is an easy way to do your part in pollinator conservation—maybe they will want to join you!

Wait until April to rid your flower beds of wilted plants and debris. The pollinators that live there will thank you by ridding your garden of pests and ensuring beautiful blooms in the spring.

Bee City Canada is merging with Pollinator Partnership Canada

Bee City Canada is merging with Pollinator Partnership Canada

NAPPC Award Canada

By the end of this year, Bee City Canada will come under Pollinator Partnership Canada’s guidance as a signature initiative.

Pollinator Partnership Canada (P2C) is a registered charity dedicated to the protection and promotion of pollinators and their ecosystems through conservation, education, and research. Bee City Canada will continue to offer our programs and reach more communities across the country.

What does this means?
Shelly Candel, Bee City Canada’s founder and Director is passing the torch on to Vicki Wojcik, Director of P2C to continue Bee City Canada’s important work.

Our current Bee City Canada programs and our website at BeeCityCanada.org will remain the same as we continue our mission to protect Canada’s pollinators through education and community action. Most of the changes are behind the scenes. Expect the same enthusiasm and commitment to serve and support our Bee City Partners.

A Message From Shelly Candel, Founder & Director of Bee City Canada.

A Message From Vicki Wojcik, Director of Pollinator Partnership Canada.

2020 NAPPC Pollinator Advocate Canada Award

2020 NAPPC Pollinator Advocate Canada Award

NAPPC Award Canada
Shelly Candel is proud to accept the 2020 NAPPC Pollinator Advocate Canada award from Pollinator Partnership.

Thank you so much, Vicki, for your very kind introduction.

Good day everyone!! I wish to congratulate all the other recipients on receiving this bee-utiful award.

I wouldn’t be here today if not for Phyllis Stiles. A dear friend, my mentor, the founder, long-time director, and the brilliance and passion behind Bee City USA.

So, I’d like to share with you the 3 important things I have learned since starting Bee City Canada almost 5 years ago.

Shelly Candel Pollinator Partnership Award

SHARE POSITIVE MESSAGES…and the world-wide movement of “Regenerative Agricuture” is a message we all need to be sharing and promoting. If you are not sure what it is all about,  there is a new film out called  “KISS THE GROUND”,  available on Netflix.

BUILD RELATIONSHIPS with our indigenous brothers and sisters across the Americas.   There is so much we can learn from their ancestoral wisdom.  I am so honoured and proud that  2 First Nation Communites, T’it’q’et and Xwisten, both in British Columbia,  joined the Bee City Family.  Through them and an Anishinaabe elder, Mary Anne Caibaiosai, I learned the meaning of relationships, whether about our relationship to the land, or the plants, or the flyers, or the crawlers, or the swimmers, or the 4-legged, or even the 2-legged,…All relationships should have qualities of respect, reciprocity and responsibility.

TO BUILD A BETTER FUTURE WE NEED TO FOCUS ON EDUCATING OUR CHILDREN…  Children. care and they want to make a positive difference on this planet.   Let’s give them the tools to make this happen.   Every school should have a garden, and every child should feel their hands in mother earth and plant the seeds needed for a healthier landscape for our pollinators.   And every child, should be EXCITED, not afraid when they see a bee!

Thank you so much.

Shelly Candel

Director, Bee City Canada

Pollinator Champion Feature: Susan Blayney

Pollinator Champion Feature: Susan Blayney

Susan Blayney is the former chair of the Pollinator Action Committee for Bee City Kawartha Lakes. Susan has always had a love for the natural environment, joining a field naturalist club in her 50’s and taking an interest in things such as bird and butterfly identification.

After retiring from nursing in 2008, she was able to invest more time into her interests. Her efforts with another field naturalist to put forward a project to protect provincially significant wetlands gained attention and in 2012 she was invited onto the Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC) for the City of Kawartha Lakes (the former Victoria County).

Her work with the EAC enabled her to take on local causes inspired by the agricultural community of the area. “It was the Environmental Advisory committee work that prompted me to take on causes and issues,” Susan said. “And to me the whole [pollinator] decline and neonicotinoids, was the issue that I decided needed to be addressed, because…we are an agricultural community up here. Corn and soybeans! So anyway, that’s how I got into environmentalism, you know, evolved from being a field naturalist.”

Recently, Susan gave a Native Bee talk in Abbey Gardens in Haliburton, Ontario on August 28. She talked about people’s dependency on honeybees for our agriculture and how they are not as efficient in pollinating as some of our native bees. The majority of our native bees don’t fit out traditional idea of what a bee is, that is, they are mostly solitary and live in the ground or in hollow stems rather than in hives.

“When you start understanding about pollinator decline you start to realize that…it’s our native bees that are in the most trouble. And that the non-native European Honey Bees, yes, they experience massive die offs and are certainly affected by neonicotinoids, but they’re not going extinct,” Susan said. “And so …when I’m talking about pollinators I want to make the distinction between honeybees and native bees.”

Susan continued talking about Mason bees, an essential pollinating species in apple orchards that nest inside hollow dead stems and other tube-like vegetation. “They [mason bees] are like leafcutter bees, they nest in…hollow tubes like stems… We can preserve stems by not cutting everything down at the end of the seasons so that if there are bees in there they are allowed to over winter. We can make sure in our gardens that there’s bare space for bees to live in the ground. Those are things that we can do to make our properties more pollinator-friendly.”

Although making backyards pollinator-friendly is a good learning tool, Susan also emphasized the importance of large scale changes essential to pollinator health. “Planting native plants, making sure that in areas…we’re preserving meadows, grassland, planting native trees in our parks instead of just you know, foreign ornamental stuff [that] looks nice…We need to make sure that our environment is doing its job instead of degrading it by just putting, you know just putting things that aren’t going to be used by insects.”

Susan stressed the importance of agricultural reforms, moving away from pesticides which are used to keep predatory insects at bay. She noted methods such as regenerative agriculture where the soil is replenished and able to support ecosystems where pests are regulated by natural predators and not by the chemicals we apply to our crops, unintentionally killing valuable pollinators. “It [regenerative agriculture] means that the soil …is restored to being an organism where insects live and fungus lives and if all of that stuff is allowed to be then it’s a natural pesticide…we’ve sterilized created monocultures that allow for…insect pests to flourish and so then we’ve become dependent on pesticides. This is why insects are declining …all over the world. You know, why Germany noticed that 75 % of its insects are missing. Even in natural areas, it’s because the pesticides are so pervasive.”

Recently, some European countries have moved towards banning or pledging to ban glyphosate, a common herbicide. Susan explained; however, that pollinator decline is a much more complex problem than just banning the use of agricultural chemicals. “In the beginning, it was about banning… neonicotinoids because of the honey bees were dying. But now I see that it’s really a much bigger problem and…there’s no real quick fix to it other than education. It’s all about education. Changing the way people think about the world and how it works.” Susan said.

Susan credited Bee City movement as the driving force to convince her city to take on the title of a Bee City. “Because there was an organization like Bee City [Canada]…I don’t think I would have ever gotten my municipality to pass a resolution supporting pollinator conservation,” Susan said. “That would have never happened. But by talking to them about, you know that this was a movement, that other communities were doing it, that there – it was going to allow them to perhaps reach some of their environmental goals that they had set out in their official plan.”

Susan recalled a project she spearheaded while she was on the where pollinator-friendly seeds were planted on a decommissioned landfill rather than grasses to make the area more attractive to pollinators. “Every community has landfill[s], and it’s a huge amount of land that’s taken out of the ecosystem and when it closes it needs help to be put back into the ecosystem and just planting grass for erosion…doesn’t help pollinators, but if the vegetation becomes pollinator-friendly then it’s a win-win.”

Another major accomplishment for the City of Kawartha Lakes was mapping a pollinator pathway, a network of registered private and public spaces dedicated to pollinators in the form of gardens with pollinator-friendly vegetation. Currently, there are 60 people registered as part of the pathway. This past spring, the idea expanded into a self-guided pollinator garden tour consisting of 12 gardens and 7 public spaces. The municipality and the tourism department also participated, providing materials and promotion of the garden tour and pollinator week.

Susan suggested future projects could include workshops on maintaining pollinator-friendly gardens and how to identify appropriate plant species. “I think for any community, that this would be a great way of pulling together people who are interested in supporting pollinators and also creating a network for education.”

About the Author:

Elizabeth Benner is a science journalist who writes about the environment, biology, and earth sciences. She has produced content for Bee City Canada, the Varsity, and Science Borealis. You can find Elizabeth on Twitter at @elizbenner.