The importance of pollinators has become increasingly recognised, as have the alarming declines observed in some species. With over 140,000 species in Canada, over one fifth of these are insects, many of which play a vital role in pollination. Butterflies, flies, moths, beetles and, most importantly bees, pollinate native plants and crops – globally, pollination by bumblebees alone is estimated at be worth several billion dollars per year!
However, their conservation has largely been overlooked due to their small size and difficulties with identification. Several pollinating butterfly and bee species have recently been listed as species-at-risk in Canada. Wildlife Preservation Canada’s at-risk pollinator program aims to save these important insects from extinction. Several initiatives are being implemented in collaboration with numerous partners in Canada, the US and overseas.
Ontario's Native Pollinators
In collaboration with York University, we are looking at habitat quality for native bumble bees across southern Ontario. Parasite levels, habitat quality, pesticide use and bumble bee species diversity will be quantified to determine under what conditions our native bumble bees thrive.
The Ontario pollinator team also started work in 2014 to establish captive breeding colonies of yellow-banded bumble bees (B. terricola). The offspring will be used to increase the population of yellow-banded bumble bees across its native range, and can be used to investigate the impact of several threats on this and related species, such as the rusty-patched bumble bee.
British Columbia and Taylor's Checkerspot Butterfly
Quebec and Yellow Banded Bumblebee
IUCN Bumblebee Specialist Group
What can you do? Plant a garden!
- Pollinators are attracted to flowers by their colour and scent. Have plants blooming from spring to fall to ensure that the garden can supply nectar and pollen for a variety of pollinators. Bright colours, especially blue, yellow and violet are attractive to pollinators.
- Pick plants that are native to your region, or at least to North America. They are better adapted and therefore more able to provide for a pollinator’s needs. Some examples: cardinal flower, honeysuckle, bee balm, zinnia, phlox, mint, fuchsia, sage, cosmos, english lavender, nasturtium, lupine, coneflower, geranium, black-eyed susan, sunflower, angel’s trumpet, verbena, aster, shasta daisy.
- Worried about bee stings? Don’t bee! Most bees are incapable of stinging you, and if you leave them alone, they will leave you alone. See our “No Fear of Stings” brochure for more on this topic. Wildlife Preservation Canada has helped produce other resources on pollinators and pollination – see the list of publications on the bottom right hand side of this screen.