The buzz about bees

An international symposium on bees—with topics ranging from their health to their importance—takes place in Kelowna this month.

The Border Free Bees Symposium is attracting local, national and international collaborators as well as volunteers, partners and bee supporters. The symposium runs from October 12 to 14 at a number of local venues. Organizer Nancy Holmes encourages you to take an interest and learn. The symposium is not about honey bees. It focuses on wild bees, the ones responsible for much of the pollination in Okanagan Valley vineyards, orchards and other agriculture.

Holmes says honey bees are like livestock with bee keepers providing hives for housing and the collection of honey.  Wild bees live in the wild and most of them live in the ground. Holmes says their habitat is threatened by housing development, road construction, and other projects affecting nature. Bees are also threatened by pesticides and other chemicals she says, something governments need to address further as more research teaches us about the true impact of chemicals on the bee population. The Canadian government has already banned certain pesticides with others on the list of possibilitiy.

The Okanagan has more wild bees than any other part of the country. Holmes believes we all need to learn how to care for the well being of bees as they are so important to our economy.

Nancy Holmes, an associate professor at UBC Okanagan’s Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies.