The City of Airdrie is actively creating and maintaining pollinator-friendly areas within its parks and open spaces! Native trees, shrubs and forbs are being planted and steps have been taken to provide nesting areas for cavity and ground nesting bees. In addition, the City has introduced an urban beekeeping pilot, activities to build public awareness about pollinators and is home to a community orchard which provides healthy pollinator habitat.
Learn More at www.airdrie.ca/beecity
Our Bee City experience is still relatively small. Covid posed some challenges, and some people involved are no longer around. That made planning events hard, with 1 or 2 people manning the helm. This was the first year post covid, that we had more departments involved, and were able to organize some events. We have also not had good response to getting residents involved, and we may need to shift gears on ways to attract them. We do see the benefits to this program, and with more departments within the city getting on board, we hope to expand the types of events we can do. Council initiatives are trending towards pollinators and sustainability, which is a great driving force. The media is always welcoming stories like this, as well.
Although COVID impacted outdoor spaces less than indoor spaces, City of Airdrie staff capacity to implement Bee City related initiatives was greatly reduced during this time period due to changing priorities and lack of capacity. The permanent pollinator friendly initiatives in our City such as our community orchards have been ongoing throughout this period and have garnered additional interest from the Community as we are seeing a rise in interest about the sustainability of food supply on a local level. We have recently connected with a local community group who are interested in becoming part of the Pollinator working group and helping City staff to extend the project’s reach in the community and to guide our efforts with their input.
The feedback from residents has been very encouraging as it relates to pollinators in general. Great care was taken not to focus too much on urban beekeeping as that topic sometimes illicit negative feedback. The negative feedback for urban beekeeping seems to be based on mis-information about bees. In response, the media campaign included providing education material to residents on the differences between bees and wasps, which more people seem to have an issue with. The media campaign also creating and erecting signage with factoids on bees. These signs were moved around to the various parks during the summer months.
It has been particularly challenging to get volunteers for the Pollinator Working Group. Consequently, this year we be placing a big focus on building our volunteer base with the expectation that the community will take ownership of being a Bee City in so doing shifting the level involvement from city staff to the community.
The City of Airdrie is currently engaged in a number of initiatives aimed at enhancing pollinator habitats and promoting pollinator diversity in the community.
•The City is actively creating and maintaining areas within our parks and open space network specifically dedicated as pollinator areas to enhance our pollinator habitats. Within these areas we have native trees, shrubs, and forbs plantings. Nesting areas are created in the pollinator areas by drilling holes into old in-situ fence posts and popular trunk segments. Portions of the park areas are also intentionally left bare to encourage ground nesting bees.
•As part of our Urban Agriculture program, the City launched an urban beekeeping pilot project that allows hives on private property, and in public and on City-owned spaces. The objective of the urban beekeeping pilot project is to build awareness about pollinators in our community and the benefits they bring to the community.