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Canada’s agricultural community helps feed honey bees

Jan. 3, 2015 - Today marks the launch of Buzzing Gardens, a national program spearheaded by Bees Matter that provides Canadians with free seeds to plant pollinator-friendly gardens. Farmers, beekeepers, and several agricultural organizations have come together in support of honey bee health and are taking action to help improve access to nutritious food sources.

"As we feed a growing population both at home and around the world, the agricultural community recognizes the importance of pollinators, like honey bees, who are responsible for one in every three bites of food we eat," said Greg Sekulic, Bees Matter spokesperson. "The Buzzing Gardens program is our way of helping Canadians get involved in supporting honey bees, just as the agriculture community has always done."

Statistics Canada reports honey bee colony numbers across the country are increasing, but honey bee health is very complex and every Canadian can play a role in keeping honey bees healthy. Most bee health experts agree that there is no single factor affecting honey bee health. Instead, parasites like the deadly varroa mite, diseases, harsh weather, incorrect use of pesticides and inadequate nutrition all affect honey bee colonies.

"We are proud to support the Buzzing Gardens program and work with the agriculture community to ensure honey bees get the nutrition they need," said Kevin Nixon, chair of the Canadian Honey Council. "Bee health is complex with many factors affecting it. Having nutritious sources of foods is critical to hive health and ensuring honey bee colonies continue to thrive."

Now, through the Buzzing Gardens program, Canadians can do their part by visiting www.beesmatter.ca and ordering a free Buzzing Garden seed packet. Each seed packet contains seasonal and perennial seeds to plant a 5 sq. ft. (0.45 m2) garden that has been approved by Pollinator Partnership Canada to attract and feed pollinators no matter what province or community you live in.

Communities in Bloom is also partnering with the Buzzing Gardens program to help increase the number of pollinator gardens.

Bees need agriculture and agriculture needs bees. Farmers and beekeepers have a long history of working together to protect pollinators, like the honey bee. Farmers across Canada have welcomed beekeepers to place hives on their farmland, so honey bees can be close to nutritious food sources like canola.

"By visiting www.beesmatter.ca Canadians will find information about the complexity of honey bee health, and ways they can help," said Sekulic.

For more information about Bees Matter, the Buzzing Gardens program and to learn about honey bee health visit www.beesmatter.ca.