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Montréal, officially a Bee City!

The Virescent green metallic bee (Agapostemon virescens) is a very common small solitary bee.
Credit: Insectarium de Montréal (André Payette)
The Virescent green metallic bee (Agapostemon virescens) is a very common small solitary bee.
  • The Virescent green metallic bee (Agapostemon virescens) is a very common small solitary bee.
  • Black swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes asterius)
  • Bee-like flower scarab
  • Fruit and seeds in the common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)
Montréal, officially a Bee City!

Being a city friendly to bees means making a commitment with Bee City Canada, an organization whose mission is to encourage towns, schools, businesses and other entities to protect pollinators. So, in becoming a bee-friendly city, Montréal is undertaking to maintain habitats that are suitable for pollinators, to educate citizens, and finally to celebrate annually all those living beings who perform such a valuable service: that of pollination!

Bees and other pollinators: pollination pros!

Obviously bees are excellent pollinators, but there are also mammals, including bats; birds, like hummingbirds; and of course other insects: wasps, bumble bees, butterflies, syrphid flies, bee flies and certain beetles.

When an insect, or another pollinator, visits a flower, a few pollen grains (produced by the flower’s male organ) attach themselves to its body and run the chance of ending up on the pistil (female organ) of a flower in the same species. The encounter between the pollen and the pistil will allow the latter to turn into a fruit filled with seeds. It’s in transporting the pollen from one flower to another that the pollinator makes the fertilization of flowers possible. And that’s pollination!

Pollination is critically important, since the fruit and seeds produced serve to feed humans as well as many animals. In fact, it’s estimated that one mouthful out of three that we take in comes from pollination. Without it, many foods and medications we need to live and survive would no longer be available. Our quality of life also depends on the permanent role of the pollinators that contribute to the production of flowers, the creation of landscapes and, indirectly, the abundance of birds, butterflies and other animal groups in our living environments.

How to become a pollinators’ citizen friend?

Many factors have an impact on the health, diversity and abundance of numerous pollinators. Hence, it’s up to us to act in a way that frustrates the threats facing these living things. To succeed, we have to avoid using pesticides in our living environment, and we have to plant varied nectar-producing plant species that flower at different times over the summer season. We can also install pollinator nesting boxes in our gardens, or better still, maintain environments that are inviting to ground-nesting pollinators, those being sandy and clay soils that get lots of sun. They allow a number of species of native bees to build tunnels and to make little cells in which they lay an egg on a lump of pollen they’ve gathered.

Participating in community-science projects like Mission Monarch, Bumble Bee Watch and eButterfly to help scientists who are studying pollinators is another way of benefiting pollinators. Finally, since pollinators are a source of inspiration for art, music and literature, why not initiate artistic, crafts and educational activities in the municipal library, the neighborhood, or maybe the local green alley?

To learn more about the essential role of insects and arthropods
Subscribe to the Our Neighbours the Insects newsletter

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