Be a Bee Ambassador wherever you live. You too can become a bee ambassador and join the movement to protect wild pollinators by creating a bee friendly zone on your property. Pollinators are responsible for one out of every three bites of food we eat and are in peril due to pesticides, disease, loss of habitat so you can save the bees.

The solution is as simple as creating some habitat and some food for them. Nancy Holmes has published five collections of poetry most recently the Flicker Tree Okanogan poems. The book is a collection of poems about the place people, plants and animals of the Okanogan Valley in the southern interior of British Columbia where she has lived for the past 25 years. She is also the editor of Open Wide a Wilderness: Canadian Nature Poems. Nancy is associate professor in creative writing and the department of creative studies at the University of British Columbia in Kelowna Place, community and art, artistic collaboration or one of her main interests. She creates, supports, and curates equal-themed  community based art projects and with their students and other artists including Woodhaven Eco art project and with a colleague. She has also established the eco art incubator which supports ecological art in the Okanogan Valley. Currently, she works with a colleague, Emily Carr, University of art and design on an award winning project called Border Free Bees, which harnesses the power of art to raise awareness and develop initiatives to protect native pollinators, especially bees in the lower mainland of the Okanogan. Nancy won the 2015 Robert Croach natural teaching award in creative writing for her innovative student project. Dig Your neighborhood.

Bees at work on the acacia flowers

About two years ago and we started off with a kind of pilot project. A scientist who worked with us at the pollination lab at Simon Fraser told us about how bees travel over distance. To help the bees move through landscapes, it’s really helpful to have little patches of flower gardens about a hundred meters apart. Some bees, they’re very, very tiny and they can’t fly very far. We want to help bees move through the landscape. There need to be these little flowery steppingstones, especially in urban landscapes to help the bees flow through a community.

There are over in the whole world, there are over 20,000 different species of bees. To put that in context, there are only about 6,000 different species of mammals. We have over 380 species in the little valley where we live and the Okanagan valley and over 900 in all of Canada.

Most people only know the same few things about bees… Oh, well they have queens, there’s a hive, they make honey, there’s drones, they do their dances. They live in big colonies. But in fact, everything I just said there is only about one of those 20,000 species of bees. It’s the European Honeybee. It’s not a native bee, it was brought over to North America from Europe with European settlers. Um, there are countless other kinds of bees, you know, that, right. All yellow and black there. They’re tiny. They’re huge. They’re, um, they can do all kinds of amazing things. Most of them are solitary. They don’t live in colonies. Most of them live in the ground. None of them really make honey except for the honeybee.

We started with the nectar trail. We took a neighborhood in our city, Kelowna, and we identified three bee hotspots. It was an organic farm, Summer Hill winery, and Woodhaven nature park. Also, there’s a demonstration garden at a recreation center in Kelowna they have incredible bee activity there. We identify these three hot spots and then charted out a path that bees might travel.

 

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