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How farmers are helping investigate native pollinators on Vancouver Island

John Rosinski knows how important bees are to his farm. They help him and his partner grow vegetables, berries and flowers on his three acres of land in Qualicum Beach, a town on the east coast of Vancouver Island.

Various types of clover around the property attract insects, pollen is transferred from male plants to female plants, and fruit, seeds, and some vegetables grow. , restaurants, bakeries and culinary guilds.

“If you don’t have pollinators around your farm, you don’t have the ability to grow vegetables in abundance,” Rosinski said.

Pollinators like bumblebees (and butterflies and moths) aren’t just important to agriculture on Vancouver Island. However, in North America, there is little information about how many native pollinator species exist or how many. So when Mr. Rosinski learned of the Vancouver Island project over his two years where he counted and identified pollinators, pests and beneficial insects on nearly 20 farms, he was eager to participate.

The project, run by the BC Climate Change Adaptation Program, monitors a wide variety of pests and beneficial insects. Three times a year, in May, June and September, project leader Bonnie Zand and her team set traps on participating farms. The yellow and blue traps (two colors that attract bees) have veins that the bees hit and drop into the RV antifreeze bucket. The liquid is non-toxic, biodegradable and protects bees.

John Rosinski knows how important bees are to his farm. They help him and his partner grow vegetables, berries and flowers on his three acres of land in Qualicum Beach, a town on the east coast of Vancouver Island.Photo credit: John Rosinski

The insects are then returned to the lab, where they are transferred to ethanol (another preservative) and labeled with the date and place of origin. Zand is now seeking funding for the next step: identifying and listing species. She said this would help governments and farmers protect native pollinators on their farmlands.

“If we don’t know which species are present, it’s very difficult to protect them, because each species has specific needs and specific vulnerabilities,” she said.

For example, different native bumblebee species may have different habitat needs. Some build their nests on the ground, others in hollow twigs or stems.

These pollinators are essential for growing food, but little is known about the native bees that support the island’s farmers. #vancouver island

Some farmers have hives as pollinators for bees (non-native species), but having a diverse bee population is important for what Zand calls “pollination insurance.” Each species is complementary to the other, she explained. They have different temperature and precipitation tolerances, can fly different distances, and have multiple methods of pollination.

“If we rely only on bees, pollination will not occur unless the bees have the right flight conditions,” she said.

Without data on native pollinators, it is also difficult to know exactly how different hazards affect their numbers. According to Canadian Program Manager Lora Moradin, bees face many risks, including climate change, pesticide exposure, pests, disease, invasive species and habitat loss. The latter is likely to be the greatest threat, but she said these dangers will likely affect each other.

“[Bees are] They will be more affected by one factor because they are already weakened by other factors,” she said.

Both Moradin and Zand agree that the survey, which will run until September, is just the beginning, and more research is needed to fully understand the bee population on Vancouver Island. But even without this knowledge, Moradin also stressed the importance of protecting native bee habitat.

“We understand to a level where we can make changes and take action.”

How farmers are helping investigate native pollinators on Vancouver Island

Source link How farmers are helping investigate native pollinators on Vancouver Island

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