May 26, 2020

UCalgary named a Bee Campus for bee-ing stewards of our landscape

Commitment to safeguarding pollinators and their habitats secures place on list

What if we created community engagement opportunities that helped to enhance environments for bees, butterflies and other essential pollinators? How do we each become better stewards of the campus landscape?

A local collaboration was sparked between University of Calgary researchers, students and staff each dedicated to biodiversity and habitat protection, who pondered just these questions. Their work led to UCalgary securing a Bee Campus designation in early 2020.

According to the United Nations, more than 75 per cent of the world’s food crops depend on pollination, along with more than 90 per cent of wild flowering plant species. Many of our micro-nutrient rich foods like fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and even some oils, would disappear without pollinators. Pollinators are key to conserving biodiversity, and yet are increasingly under threat from human activities.

“Students, faculty, and researchers across the university study and promote the conservation of Alberta's 320-plus native bee species. For example, a collaboration among the Department of Biological Sciences, the Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, and Libraries and Cultural Resources has produced over 250 digital images of native bees, native planting guides, and bio-inspired designs — all available through a recently launched website,” says Dr. Mindi Summers, PhD, instructor in the Department of Biological Sciences.

“We are excited for the Bee Campus designation to expand upon the important work being done on campus to protect and promote pollinator and insect biodiversity.” When UCalgary officially became a Bee Campus, the designation recognized that the campus community has a committed group of researchers, faculty, garden club members, students and staff who are working together to study pollinators, educate the community about pollinator habitats, and celebrate them throughout the year.

UCalgary has a variety of initiatives occurring across campus that support pollinators. The Bee Campus designation highlights the Department of Biological Sciences’ ongoing research contributions to understand bees and other beneficial insects that support agricultural and urban landscapes. UCalgary also has one of the largest physical bee collections in Canada, with over 100,000 specimens in a digital archive. Also, pollinator habitat programming will be provided through the Sustainability Resource Centre, offering resources and tools to get involved.

Bee City’s mandate to protect pollinators and preserve the beauty of nature has resonated with many Canadians and communities across the country. There are currently 11 other Bee Campuses and close to 40 cities actively participating in Canada.

“There is tremendous determination and buzzing energy at UCalgary to make a positive difference. We are grateful and honoured that your team have chosen to become a Bee Campus to better protect pollinators and educate students, faculty, staff and the city at large that now is the time for positive action," says Shelly Candel, director, Bee City Canada.

“From the start, this has been a journey of love and passion for pollinators and people, a philosophy which is still deeply important to us here at Bee City Canada today.”

Want to support pollinators? Grow native flowering plants in your garden that bloom at different times of the year, avoid pesticides, fungicides or herbicides in your gardens, and consider taking time to learn more about bees and other pollinators.

Webinar May 27

Join us for a webinar with Amanda Mosca, sustainability co-ordinator, Office of Sustainability who will host a webinar on Wednesday, May 27 at 1 p.m. A Q-and-A will follow, offering insights from the Biological Sciences team Mindi Summers, instructor, and Lincoln Best, pollinator taxonomic technician, along with Dr. Marjan Eggermont, professor, mechanical engineering, and Libraries and Cultural Services' Rob Alexander, digitization specialist. They will talk about how the community worked together to achieve our Bee City Canada campus designation and how you can support pollinators in your community. RSVP here.

The University of Calgary’s Bee Campus Designation initiative supports United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals 1, 2, 3, 12, 15 and 17.

The University of Calgary’s Institutional Sustainability Strategy provides a road map for continuous improvement in our pursuit of excellence and leadership in sustainability. We aim to become a Canadian post-secondary education leader in sustainability in our academic and engagement programs, administrative and operational practices and through supporting community and industry in their aims for leadership in sustainability. Learn more about UCalgary’s leadership in sustainability.