Pollination is the transfer of pollen from the male organ to the female organ of the flower. It occurs when pollinating insects land on flowers while they are searching for food, transferring the pollen within the flower and from one flower to another.
Bees are excellent pollinators. They easily collect pollen due to special hairs on their legs. The honey bee is a well-known domesticated species that was first introduced from Europe. Wild bees, however, originated in Canada and are mainly solitary and do not live in colonies. There are currently more than 700 species of wild bees in Canada. There are also other pollinating insects, such as bumble bees, wasps, butterflies and syrphid flies.
Pollinating insects contribute to biodiversity by increasing the productivity and diversity of plants. For example, in agriculture, they boost crop yields by increasing the quantity and the quality of the harvested products. In fact, some plant species depend entirely on pollinating insects for their reproduction.
Unfortunately, the number of pollinators is decreasing at an alarming rate. The global decline of honey bees in particular has caused an outrage around the world, as numerous colonies have collapsed. The decline of pollinators can be explained by several factors, mainly the use of certain pesticides, the destruction of habitats, single-crop farming, climate change and the presence of diseases and parasites.
Here are several actions you can take to help pollinators in your yard or garden:
- Stop using pesticides and instead use organic or mechanical methods to get rid of pests.
- Plant a wide range of flowering plants around your property and leave areas of your yard to grow naturally.
- Leave some areas of your yard mulch-free so bees can nest there.
- Leave out a bowl of water with stones in it so bees can come and drink.
- Install insect hotels so that bees can take shelter.
St. Thomas’ pollinator garden
In 2013, the Eco-quartier NDG, in partnership with the Dépôt Alimentaire NDG (formerly Action Communiterre) and with the collaboration of the St. Thomas Church, designed a collective garden in the backyard of the church. The main objective of this garden was to reinforce food autonomy in NDG, letting local members to grow and collect locally grown fruits, vegetables, and herbs that are fresh and organic. It was a real community effort, this project needed the participation of multiple people, including many volunteers. The garden’s creation also greatly increased the ecological and esthetical value of the terrain, which was previously a simple lawn.
The following year, the St. Thomas pollinator garden was created, with the aim of creating an ecological zone specially dedicated to pollinating insects, especially for bees. The biodiversity of the environment has been enhanced by planting a variety of native perennials and a fruit tree that attracts pollinating insects. The garden also has an educational vocation, and offers an excellent learning platform to educate children about the importance of pollinators, while giving them the opportunity to get their hands dirty.
In addition to its ecological, esthetic and educational potential, the pollinator garden also increases the productivity and quality of the products of the vegetable garden. In fact, thanks to the pollination work done by the insects, the fruits and vegetables grown yield a bigger crop. The Pollinator Garden is located at the corner of Somerled and Rosedale streets, behind St. Thomas Church. We invite you to admire it, but without entering it. To take the tour, to volunteer or to organize an educational activity, do not hesitate to contact the Éco-quartier NDG!
Being located on private grounds, only members of the collective garden can visit it, and we ask people not to touch the garden produce.
Thanks to the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation for their financial support.