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Protecting Pollinators in Rangeview

Did you know that Alberta is home to over 200 species of bees and 170 species of butterflies? These bees and butterflies come in a vast array of colours, shapes, and sizes.

The bees that we have in Alberta are solitary bees, this means that they don’t live in colonies or hives. Instead, our native bee species live by themselves in tunnels, cavities, and plant debris like dried leaves and grass. Unlike social bees that live in hives, solitary bees are non-aggressive and do not swarm. We’ve got species of leaf-cutter bees, bumblebees, masked bees, sweat bees and mason bees. Although these bees don’t produce honey, they still require nectar from flowers. These species rely on flowering plant material for food and have adapted alongside flowering plants that are native to Alberta.

Like bees, butterflies also rely on nectar from flowering plants for food. The nectar that flowers produce is sticky and sweet and full of natural sugars, the perfect food for these hard-working pollinators. As pollinators collect nectar, they pick up pollen. The pollen that they carry from one flower to the next will make it to the pistil of the flower, where pollination occurs.

We are working on making Rangeview a hub for pollinators – not only will we promote our native pollinator species through habitat creation, but we are also going to have honeybee hives! Honeybees are not native to North America, and instead originate from South and Southeast Asia. However, they are highly adaptable and can thrive in our climate and produce tons and tons of honey, unlike our native bee species that feed on nectar and spread pollen, but do not make honey in colonies.

We are overly excited to have Lindsay Guyn, an experienced beekeeper with Kneehill Apiaries taking care of the honeybee hives in Rangeview. We will have four honeybee hives that will host thousands of bees. These bees will fly throughout Rangeview collecting nectar from and pollinating flowers in the greenhouse, gardens, and throughout the community. As the bees collect nectar, they will bring it back to the hives and distribute it throughout the honeycomb cells within. Towards the end of the summer, we will harvest this honey, package it, and share it with the community. The hives are located just south of the wetland and storm pond, amongst alfalfa and dandelions, the bees will be happy to be near bodies of water and so many flowering plants.

Pollination is essential to produce fruit and seeds. Without pollinators like bees and butterflies we would not have food like apples, almonds, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, gourds, onions, pumpkins, watermelon, zucchini, - the list goes on!

The development of urban areas can result in the fragmentation and loss of habitat for our pollinator species. However, we can help re-establish these habitats by adding pollinator gardens, bee and butterfly baths, and pollinator sanctuaries to our gardens, yards, and parks.

Rangeview will feature pollinator gardens along the west-to-east greenway. These pollinator hubs will be bridged together throughout Rangeview with orchards, food forests, vegetable and kitchen gardens, and natural plantings.

One exciting feature that we will be introducing in June of 2022 is our pollinator hotel! The hotel will include compartments filled with materials like pinecones, bamboo shoots, logs, and dried grass. Bees, butterflies, and other insects and pollinators will be able to build nests and find sanctuary in our pollinator hotel. The grand opening for the Rangeview pollinator hotel will be on Friday, July 22nd from 2:00 – 4:00 pm at our Protecting Pollinators event in the demonstration garden beside the greenhouse.

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