Bee City Canada Pollinator Summit

On September 25, 2018 Bee City Canada held their first Pollinator Summit at the Kortright Centre for Conservation in Woodbridge, Ontario. This report provides a summary of the event that emphasized participation and collaboration.

Workshop participants included representatives from 19 current and future Ontario Bee Cities, four Bee Campuses including Wilfrid Laurier University, the University of Guelph, Fleming College, and Western University. The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry attended, along with several organizations including Wildlife Preservation Canada, Pollinator Partnership, the Ontario Greenbelt Foundation, and Hydro One.

The purpose of the workshop was to bring together Bee City Canada affiliates, volunteers, and supporters, to network, share knowledge, and celebrate successes. The success of the bee city movement is a result of the commitment and action taken by all of these passionate people who continue to support, protect, and raise awareness for pollinators.

The morning began with an introduction from OMAFRA facilitator Helen Scutt, opening remarks by Bee City Canada Director Shelly Candel, and an important opening welcome from Anishinaabe cultural consultant, Kim Wheatley. Kim also provided closing remarks reminding us to ensure inclusivity in every effort, inviting people to the table whose voices are largely unheard.

Included in the morning agenda, several Ontario Bee Cities shared their journeys and successful bee city initiatives including Niagara Falls, the Township of King, and the City of Guelph. As the first bee city in Canada, the City of Toronto highlighted their bee city program and Pollinator Protection Strategy. Prior to the morning break, the Provincial Apiary Specialist with OMAFRA and the Vice President of the Ontario Bee Keepers Association addressed summit attendees (see Appendix A for speaker details).

Breakout Session Topics


  • Habitat
  • Education & Communication
  • Community Engagement
  • Celebrating Pollinators
  • Sourcing Materials (plants, seeds)
  • Collaboration & Partnerships
  • What can Bee City Canada do for you?

Two keynote speakers from the University of Guelph immediately followed the morning break to inspire attendees for the afternoon breakout sessions. The breakout sessions were designed with participation and collaboration in mind and attendees participated in discussions and visioning at four of eight sessions of their choosing (Box 1). Sessions were primarily facilitated by Bee City Canada Board of Directors and the summit organizing team. In twenty minute intervals, participants moved between topics and shared thoughts, ideas, successes, challenges, and ways forward for bee city affiliates.

Moving Forward – Next Steps

It is important to maintain the momentum of the Bee City movement across the country. In September 2018 there are 22 bee cities, 21 bee schools, and 11 bee businesses and this number is growing. The Bee City movement is an opportunity to take action in a meaningful way to support and protect pollinators and be part of a larger community of practice that is concerned with creating positive and lasting change in the world.

Key Messages


 Knowledge sharing between and beyond bee cities.

Education is critical to move forward and address misconceptions.

Collaboration & partnerships are vital.

Leverage existing programs and technology for messaging.

Tap into local/regional/national leadership and expertise.

Simple and consistent messages.

Be mindful of inclusivity.

“Save the Bees” Campaign Featured on CTV News Ottawa

During a CTV News Ottawa segment about seasonal allergies, natural medicine expert Sherry Torkos spoke about A. Vogel’s “Save the Bees” campaign and their support for Bee City Canada.

For every A.Vogel Allergy Relief product sold, the company is donating $1 to Bee City Canada initiatives aimed at educating children about the importance of pollinators.

We are very thankful to A. Vogel for their generosity as well as their commitment to educating our children about protecting pollinators.

The segment aired on April 27, 2017.


A. Vogel “Save the Bees” Campaign

A. Vogel “Save the Bees” Campaign

A.Vogel wants to help save the bees!

Bees and other pollinators are the unpaid workforce of A.Vogel, pollinating herbs and ensuring they have high quality products. They never use pesticides or chemical fertilizers, so pollinators are very willing workers!

To help protect pollinators and their habitat, A. Vogel is generously donating $1 from the sale of each unit of their Allergy Relief line of products to Bee City Canada and Urban Seedling, a Montreal-based business specializing in creating organic vegetable gardens in urban areas.

If you suffer from seasonal allergies, you can get the relief you need and help save pollinators at the same time.

A.Vogel Allergy Relief is a homeopathic medicine for the treatment of sneezing, itchy nose and burning eyes. After using A.Vogel Allergy Relief, 88.5% of patients reported an improvement in their allergy symptoms.

A.Vogel Allergy Relief is:

  • Non-addictive, non drowsy and has no side effects.
  • Sugar, lactose and gluten-free.
  • Safe for pregnant women and children aged 1 and up.
Bee City Canada and Bentall Kennedy’s Partnership Nets Marketing Award

Bee City Canada and Bentall Kennedy’s Partnership Nets Marketing Award

2016 ICSC Maple Leaf Gold Award

We were very happy to hear that our friends at Bentall Kennedy received the 2016 International Council of Shopping Center’s Maple Leaf Gold Award for their work promoting pollinator health. The company’s ‘Bee Friendly’ campaign, which ran during Earth Week, included activities in malls across Toronto to educate visitors about pollinators and promote Toronto as a Bee City. We caught up with Domenic Imbesi, who was instrumental in this campaign, to ask him about Bentall Kennedy’s commitment to helping pollinators and how this is shaping employee attitudes towards a more pollinator-friendly lifestyle.

How has your experience been working with Bee City Canada?

Awesome! I’m really content that Bee City Canada approached us with the opportunity to commence a partnership.

We’ve established a great business relationship. Shelly Candel, Director, is humble and very professional. Gillian Leitch, Program Director, is passionate and very appreciative of our efforts. Together the energy devoted to this cause by this “two-person” team mimics the work and functions of a “Bee Hive” (pardon the pun) . Bee City Canada’s social responsibility values truly align with our corporate values and for this reason I think we were able to foster a successful partnership.

Do you think about things differently now that you know more about pollinators?

Yes! I feel I can be an ambassador and help to raise awareness about this important environmental concern. Prior to meeting with Bee City Canada, I was not educated in this area. Bee City Canada helped me to become more aware of this crisis. I find myself now wanting to learn more about this issue. The topic now comes up often in discussions with my personal friends and at family gatherings.

What impact has the partnership with Bee City Canada had on the company?
To be one of the first companies to support Bee City Canada is an honour. Our “Bee Friendly” public awareness campaign has allowed us to practice one of our core objectives – to better the communities our shopping centre portfolios serve.

Our staff is now intrigued and motivated and are encouraged to be more sustainable in their day to day functions. Truly a viral positive effect!

Living With Bees and Wasps

Living With Bees and Wasps

Often, wasps are the stinging culprits and bees get blamed. While bees are better at it, wasps are pollinators too.

If an insect has stung you, and at any time, you feel it is becoming difficult to breathe, call an ambulance or go directly to the emergency room.

Most of the time, your reaction will be minimal or absent (especially if you have never been stung by that type of insect before). Often times it will hurt immediately for a very short period and may begin to swell or swelling may develop later that day or the next.

If you have been stung on a finger on which you wear a ring, take the ring off before swelling develops.

Stings can bring down you blood pressure, do not drive a vehicle or otherwise exert yourself if possible. Eat something, especially something sweet and drink some water. Be conscious of your surroundings and assess whether you feel faint.

Look into the bee, wasp, ant allergy test if you suspect your child has shown signs of an allergy, and then always carry the epi-pen if they do.

If you feel you are having an anaphylactic reaction, use your epi-pen or ask the manager of the space if they have one.

After using an epi-pen go directly to an emergency room for further essential treatment.

If you give a child antihistamine for a sting, be sure to continue to monitor for breathing issues, which might require epinephrine.

Bee Stings

Remove the stinger with your nail to prevent further venom being released. Wash the area and put ice on it to reduce the swelling. Take an anti-inflammatory if you have had a bee sting before and worry about the area becoming swollen. Take an antihistamine if you have had a sting in the past that brought on allergic symptoms you want to avoid.

Any clothing the stinger may have touched should be washed, as this could have been marked with the alarm pheromone and cause future stings if there is more than one bee present. This is highly unlikely unless you have opened a Honey Bee hive or are standing in front of the entrance to one.

Wasp Stings

The stinger will not be an issue, just put ice on it to reduce the swelling and take an antihistamine or anti-inflammatory if you have had a sting in the past that brought on allergic symptoms you want to avoid.

Bees and Wasps live in our Gardens

Pollinators have very important functions within habitats, as all creatures of the planet do. Learning how to live with them again may be just the thing to save us both.

Most of our bees live in ground nests along with many wasps. Some bees live in cavities in buildings and plants and some wasps make hives in trees and on structures.

If you follow their behaviour at a few times during the day you will learn a lot about them.

If you see bee habitation, repurpose the areas or alter the landscape (think like a bee!) only after the bees have gone to bed (watch for them returning sometime before twilight). They can dig their way out but won’t find a hole you have covered up.

Water and mulch the areas you don’t want ground nesters living in (like high traffic areas around doors and stairs).

Find some areas that you don’t mind them inhabiting and leave those spaces alone, don’t mulch or water them and don’t create paths in front of them.

Find the safest way of dealing with the situation for you and the pollinator by answering these questions:


Is it a bee or a wasp?
Identify distinctive shapes, colours, sounds, markings and behaviours.


What flowers/plants do they tend to pollinate, what other duties do they have in the ecosystem (many wasps feed on ‘pest’ species).

What are they looking for to eat at this time the year.

What is it about their behaviour that is bothering you.


What times of the season are they more defensive.

When are they looking for a home vs. feeding.

What is their lifespan, how long will they occupy a nest,

When is it best to try to remove a nest or deter them from making one.


Where do they live, what are their habits

Where can we expect to see them

What do we bring into the garden to attract them to us? (Pop and juice, fallen fruit, garbage)


Signs and signals they might give before stinging us, places we can be and expect to get stung, or actions we do to cause a sting (waving arms quickly, swatting)

How can you change the way you use the space to reduce conflict.

Based on the information given, students can then answer why.

Why do bees and wasps sting? (Answer: As a defense mechanism)

When Bees or Wasps are Bugging You

Share the importance of being calm and still when one comes close.

Make the wasp dizzy, spread your fingers wide, and rotate your hands (like you are turning a large doorknob), or twirl away from the area, leaving them confused and unable to follow you.

Wear long sleeve shirts and pants when in the garden for long hours and If bees or wasps are hanging around you, consider tying up long hair to prevent them from getting tangled.

Wasps are attracted to our food

Keep food or sugary drinks covered; remove snacks or fallen fruit (keep area clean of garbage and animal feces).

Burn incense like sage smudge (or use a beekeeper’s smoker with pine needles) to distract and confuse them (while barbequing, especially in the fall when wasps are more urgently packing away food stores and want meat, they are carnivorous, bees are vegans).

Wasps Nests

Place a brown paper bag in the garden to deter wasps from setting up a hive close by in a tree or on a building.

If small enough to cut off, try to re-site a wasp hive in a less busy area. Use a bee suit, gloves and boots.

If you can’t wait for the end of their nesting season in the Fall, cover the nest opening (watch where they come and go from and see if there are obvious holes) with soil and a large pot, then mulch around the pot. Do this at night when they have gone to bed.

If there are mice in the area they are likely borrowing a burrow. If you don’t remove it, in the Fall they will abandon it and not use it again the next year, nor will other wasps inhabit the area next year.