UBC Okanagan

Bee symposium generating a buzz in Kelowna

UBC Okanagan is hosting an international bee symposium Oct. 12 to 14

A bee symposium to be held Kelowna next week is generating buzz about what can be done to help the local bee population.

In Vernon, a beekeeper was concerned for his bees after a large number of them died. At the time, he suspected it was a virus.

READ MORE: Vernon beekeeper concerned after spike of deaths in bee population

Keynote speaker Victoria Wojcik, research director the Pollinator Partnership, said it’s difficult to determine the actual cause of bee deaths, but pesticides play both a short long-term role.

In her presentation, Wojcik will be giving an overview of the program Pollinator Partnership does Canada-wide, which promotes the use of native plants and gives a guide on which plants are bee friendly in the country’s many regions.

“The number one thing you can do to help bees is provide floral habitats,” she said. “It sounds pretty simple but when you actually get around to providing that habitat, other questions come up like what do I plant, where do I plant it?”

It’s difficult to track how the Okanagan’s bees are doing, because of the diversity of plant and bee systems, Wojcik said.

Loss of habitat due to agricultural farm and urban as well as pesticide use contribute to declining bee populations.

Nicotine-based pesticides are showing in high levels in aquatic systems, and have been in use for the past 15 years, Wojcik said.

“What’s problematic about the neo-nicotine pesticides is that the impact they have on bees, in terms of native bee health and honey bee health, it’s very rarely a direct mortality impact,” she said. “The incidents of bee deaths because of direct pesticide are pretty low across Canada.”

“What’s more common, which is much more difficult to assess and manage and is actually much more scary, in terms of overall be health, is that you have interactions with the hives that lead to sublethal effects, whether it impacts the nutrition of the hive, where is affects their ability to access the nutrients in their food.”

In August, the federal government agreed to being phasing out outdoor use of three nicotine-based pesticides starting in 2021.

READ MORE: Pesticides linked to bee deaths will be phased out in Canada, sources say

“With regulation coming into place with restrictions and phase out of these particular products, we should see an improvement in bee health because they won’t be constantly subject to these pesticides in the environment,” Wojcik said.

Wojcik said B.C.’s bees are doing as well, or slightly less than, the rest of Canadian bees.

With honey bees, there was a recorded 30 per cent loss within the last two years, but Wojcik said it’s difficult to track regional numbers, or get official data on every bee species in B.C.

Nancy Holmes is a professor at UBCO and representative of Border Free Bees, which has ongoing projects in the Lower Mainland, US and Mexico.

“I hear lots of reports of honey bee die offs and I just don’t know how much follow up on the reasons, very often its often a perfect storm of problems.”

She said UBCO is hosting the symposium because of the interest people have in the community.

Holmes is hoping to get a grant and do research with a biologist at UBCO to do an assessment on the local bee population. As a hotspot for bee populations, the Okanagan has more than 360 different species of bee, she said.

Most of the bee population lives in the ground, it may be green, it may be the size of a fruit fly, but they’re all master pollinators, she said.

The public events begin with a free talk by Mace Vaughan of the renowned insect conservation organization, The Xerces Society. Vaughan, who supervises the largest pollinator conservation team in the US, will give a talk called Bring Back the Pollinators: What You Need to Know to Save Native Bees Oct. 12 at the Laurel Packinghouse, at 7 p.m.

Talks and workshops continue throughout the weekend with talks, workshops and ends Sunday with a plant rescue field trip.

More information can be found at borderfreebees.com/border-free-bees-symposium. For a list of Okanagan bee friendly plants, resources can also be found through the Border Free Bees website.


edit@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Kelowna’s definitive Christmas market list

We’ve prepared a list of every market in the Central Okanagan

Festival of Trees returns to West Kelowna’s Mission Hill Winery

The fundraiser for the B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation will run Nov. 23 to Jan. 4

Proportional representation vote continues to draw low numbers

Only 6.5 per cent of eligible voters have cast ballots so far in B.C. referendum

Kelowna Skating Club skaters take home 10 medals and three provincial titles

Ava Sanderson was among the winners of the 2019 B.C and Yukon Sectional Championships

Kelowna to host World Junior pre-tournament game

Team Russia will take on Team Sweden at Prospera Place on Dec. 18

Your weekday weather update

Flurries and more rain anticipated for the Okanagan - Shuswap

Protesters confront Environment Minister in B.C.

Protesters wanting more for killer whales confront Catherine McKenna

Humans reshaping evolutionary history of species around the globe: paper

University of British Columbia researcher had the paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society

Toronto ‘carding’ activist Desmond Cole stopped by police in Vancouver

Cole says his experience reveals what daily life is like for black and Indigenous residents

Commercial trucks banned from left lane of Coquihalla

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation has introduced a new program that hopes to prevent accidents and closures on the Coquihalla Highway.

B.C. on track to record same number of overdose deaths as last year

128 people died of overdoses in September, bringing the total to more than 1,100 so far in 2018

Okanagan pickleball pair win bronze at nationals

Vernon and Kelowna players reach podium in California

B.C. firefighters rescue horse stuck in mud

‘It happens more often than you’d think,’ says deputy chief

Couple allegedly caught staking out Okanagan home

The man and woman were seen in a black Suzuki Tracker with a white back

Most Read