Bee at work

Mining bee already at work

Last week I attended a fascinating symposium hosted by UBCO entitled Pollination Science and Stewardship.

The conference was organized by the Entomological Society of BC, Cory Sheffield of the Royal Saskatchewan Museum and Jennifer Heron of the BC Ministry of the Environment.

The focus of the symposium was to highlight some of the current pollination and pollinator-based research being conducted across Canada with an eye to enable lands managers, owners, stewards and conservation practitioners to use the information presented and apply it to their own conservation practices.

Many of us have already demonstrated interest in protecting our landscape through planting water-wise gardens.

However, more of us should enhance and extend our vision by also turning our gardens into pollinator friendly spaces. Xeriscape gardening principles dovetail well with pollinator gardens for many reasons and here are a few: both promote ecological health and biodiversity, both champion the concept of an extended flowering season using native and heritage plants and both are pesticide free.

A well-crafted garden planting combination can provide a continual flow of pollen and nectar from March to October.

Pollinators and water conservationists alike love the following plants: families of hyssop, catnip, aster, yarrow and many herbs, especially if left to flower. To share an important statistic: there are approximately 850 wild bees in Canada and the Okanagan supports 350 species with a number under threat.

Our non-stinging, solitary wild bees come with fun names such as: hairy belly bees, cellophane bees, masked bees, digger bees, sweat bees and mason bees to name a few. Last Wednesday while inspecting crocuses during a brief sunny spell, I was delighted to encounter mining bees gorging on nectar and pollen.

Great local examples of pollinator gardens include: UnH2O Demonstration Garden in Kelowna, ; and the Demonstration borders of Summerland Gardens . Both demonstration gardens feature labeled plants and offer guided garden tours during the season organized by staff and volunteers.

Additionally, writer/UBC professor Nancy Holmes has undertaken an exciting pollinator project entitled Border Free Bees: Artists Linking Science and Communities for Pollinator Conservation whereby project participants are creating both the Kelowna Nectar Trail and the Public Art Pollinator Pasture

For those looking for tips on lowering your water use through smart irrigation and water-wise plantings come to the RDOSís presentation where Carlos Pacheco and I will present at the West Bench Elementary Auditorium on Saturday April 22th from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. or contact me for more information:

Eva Antonijevic is program director of the Okanagan Xeriscape Association.