Last Saturday, the Memorial University of Newfoundland Botanical Garden in St. John's in New Labrador along with the Newfoundland and Labrador Beekeeping Association (NLBKA) celebrated Pollinator Day.
Pollinators, which include over 200,000 species of insects worldwide, help more than 80 percent of the world’s flowering plants produce seeds or fruit. Among the insects responsible for pollination, a wide variety of bees, butterflies, and flies and other pollinators are found in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Among the highlights of the event, visitors were able to check out an observation beehive and taste the freshly produced honey.
"You may see the queen. You'll certainly see the other bees passing pollen and nectar back and forth. You'll see them working," Karen Youden Walsh of the NL Beekeeping Association told CBC News before the event.
Visitors were encouraged to participate by dressing up as their favorite pollinator. The day’s activities included honey tasting, beehive tours, building a bee house, a pollinator photo booth, beekeeping equipment displays, and sales of beeswax candles and honey. Guests were also invited to support the NLBKA by ordering spring bulbs, which eventually provide early food for bees.
Native Newfoundland honey bees are extremely rare in comparison to global honey bee populations. The province is luckily free of the four major diseases that affect other bees around the world, which is something future beekeepers should be aware of.
"For the Newfoundland and Labrador Beekeeping Association it really worries us that somebody may someday decide 'I want to keep bees,' and just through a lack of knowledge go order bees somewhere or bring them in," Walsh said. "It's important that governments, beekeepers, and the general public come together and say we have a really special environment here, we have a really special honey bee and we need to do everything we can to maintain that."
The event sought to raise awareness about pollinators outside of the bee family, such as butterflies and pollen wasps, as well.
"There are all kinds of other insects that pollinate our plants and the food that we eat, and so (we) will talk about who they are and what they do, as well as habitat conservation and restoration," said Kim Shipp, director of MUN Botanical Garden. "We're hoping some will come dressed as their favorite pollinator, and we have a little photo booth. If they don't they can have some wings and a bumblebee antenna that they can try on and take some pictures."
More information is available on the MUN Botanical Garden’s website at www.mun.ca/botgarden.