Wednesday, December 12, 2001 -

Once upon a bee project: A public education effort to create a bee-friendly city

Desiree Tommasi, Alice Miro, and Mark Winston. Simon Fraser University, Biological Sciences, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada

Public education has a major role in applying conservation guidelines derived from scientific studies, especially in an urban area such as Vancouver where threats to biodiversity are closely linked to human activities. The Once Upon a Bee Project was developed to enhance public understanding about the importance of wild bees, and to encourage bee-friendly habitats in the city. Our educational activities have included teaching elementary school children about the importance of wild pollinators, involving high school students as “bee ambassadors,” leading bee-watching trips with naturalist groups, presenting lectures at meetings of horticultural societies, and visiting environmental fairs with our interactive bee display. We also published “A Bee Friendly Habitat” brochure and posted a “Once Upon a Bee” website where visitors can experience an interactive Vancouver Bee Ride informing them about the best places to go bee watching, and what they can do to attract and maintain wild bees. Through these conservation and education programs we created a network of supportive Vancouver residents now aware of the benefits of pesticide-free gardening, the importance of planting a variety of native plants, and the necessity to provide nesting areas and refuges in urban parks and backyards. Most significantly, the project has raised awareness about why conserving bees matters, and about the relationship between plants, bees, and humans. We are now heading towards a more sustainable future in Vancouver with bee-friendlier habitats in which bees and humans can thrive together. This outcome was possible because of the project’s link between research and public outreach.

Keywords: pollination, wild bees

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