Community Bee Gardens
Honeybees play a critical role in our food supply, but they're increasingly at risk due to things like
- changing agricultural practices,
- change in climate,
- introduction of new pests and diseases, and
- rapidly growing global population.
But, there are many ways you can help. Visit the Honeybee Centre's Community Bee Gardens across Surrey, plant some bee-attracting plants in your garden or even volunteer or donate to help protect bees in our communities.
Honeybee Centre's Community Bee Garden Project
We're supporting the Honeybee Centre's Community Bee Garden Project to introduce pollinators into our community and provide education about honeybees, native pollinators, and ways you can support bees from your own backyard.
The Community Bee Garden Project inspires, educates and connects communities to create better awareness for honeybees and to support food sustainability. All of the honey produced by these bee gardens will be sold at various locations around Surrey with 100% of the proceeds donated to the Surrey Food Bank to help feed our community.
Bee garden locations
The Honeybee Centre's Community Bee Gardens are at Cedar Grove Park, Stewart Farm at Elgin Park and behind the Newton Arena at the PLOT: A Community Land Art Project site. The Honeybee Centre is also working on additional sites across the city as well that include Urban Safari and Kwantlen Polytechnic University (pending).
There are 2 honeybee colonies in the centre of each garden. Honeybees are incredibly gentle and non-aggressive. To them, you're just another object in their environment. If a honeybee lands on you, she's just exploring so relax and let her fly away when she's ready.
Attracting bees with your garden
Approximately 1/3 of our food supply is pollinated by various bees. Taking care of pollinators is not only important, but it's essential for the ecosystem to function.
The best way you can help and attract pollinators is by feeding them. Grow a garden of pollinator friendly plants that will bloom throughout the season to provide food and nourishment for all pollinators. Pollinators also need water, so add a shallow dish filled with rocks to your garden to allow them to land safely and rehydrate!
Pollination occurs when the male part of the plant (pollen) is transferred to the female part of another plant (stigma). This allows the pollen to germinate and fertilize the egg of the plant. When bees and other pollinators fly from flower to flower to drink nectar, they are picking up and transferring pollen on the hairs of their body or on their wings. This is called pollination! Pollination can be achieved by wind, water, animals or insects.
Kinds of native bees
There are over 4,000 native bee species in North America - each with their own unique features that make them perfect for pollinating specific types of plants and flowers. In the Honeybee Centre's Community Bee Gardens, you may see some of these native bees!
Mason Bees (orchard bees)
Mason bees are active early in the spring so they pollinate early spring fruit. You'll spot mason bees from March to June.
Mason bees are a solitary bee (no queen or colony). They are black and iridescent green in colour (they look a little bit like a fly). The females and males mate throughout the early spring. The females find holes in logs or small narrow spaces where they lays eggs in a row, each protected in its own chamber with its own pollen (food) supply. The eggs will grow into larvae and then into pupae in their own chamber and the following season, the adults will emerge one by one to begin the cycle again.
Miner bees are active early in the spring so they are especially effective at pollinating early herbs and fruit trees. You'll see miner bees in February and March.
Miner bees are a solitary bee (no queen or colony). They dig long tunnels in the ground that branch off into chambers where they lay their eggs and store enough pollen for the larvae and pupae to consume as it develops. Their tubes can be over a foot deep in the ground!
Bumblebees have fat, fuzzy bodies and a "bumbling" flight pattern. Their fuzzy bodies collect a lot of pollen making them very effective pollinators! You'll see bumble bees in March and April.
Bumblebees live in a colony with a single queen bee. At the end of a previous season, mated queens hibernate and then emerge in the spring. They leave their nest to make their own colonies which they start by building wax cells, laying eggs, and feeding the larvae. Once her brood matures, she will stop foraging and focus on only laying eggs. At the end of the season, new queens mate and then hibernate in order to restart the cycle the following spring.
Volunteering and donations to help bees
Sign up for volunteer opportunities through the Honeybee Centre or the City of Surrey's Partners in Parks Volunteer Program. Opportunities include site hosts, garden maintenance and garden design artists.
Generous support and donations have been provided by the following businesses:
- Hunters Garden Centre - Soil and plants for all gardens
- Dragonlily Gardens - Fence design and building coordination
- Zboya Design - Honey label artwork
- City of Surrey – Space and volunteers