Pollinator Project to support bees and butterflies

Pollinator Project

The Pollinator Project aims to make Vancouver parks and gardens friendlier to bumble bees, honey bees, mason bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.

Pollinators have declined in many areas but the exact causes are not known. Factors include habitat changes from growing cities, spread of disease (mites and viruses), and pesticide use.

The Vancouver Park Board wants to create a "hive mentality" on the project and will work with a broad range of organizations on pollinator conservation: Environmental Youth Alliance, VanDusen Botanical Garden, and Hives for Humanity.

Related initiatives

Recent developments with this project

Honeybee Festival

June 18, 2014 – The Oak Street Farmers’ Market held the Honeybee Festival that featured:

  • A demonstration beehive
  • Local honey-tasting
  • A visit by founder of Blessed Bee Apiaries and Bee School, Brian Campbell
  • Distribution of free pollinator friendly seedlings

Pollinator Week

June 16, 2014 – During Pollinator Week, the Environmental Youth Alliance organized a bee photo contest and a bee safari to search for local pollinators at Oak Meadows Park.

Enhancing pollinator habitat in Shaughnessy

May 17, 2014 – Oak Meadows Park now includes native plants to create a more natural habitat for pollinators.

Why pollinators matter

Without the help of pollinators, many plants can not produce seeds and fruits. These insects have a close, essential relationship with the flowers they visit: as they forage for nectar and pollen, they pollinate the plants, crops, and fruit trees.

How we will improve pollinator habitat

Many Vancouver parks are currently poor habitats for pollinators because of landscaping maintenance, a lack of flowering plants, soil conditions, and few places to survive the winter.

To enhance habitat for pollinators in urban parks and green spaces, we will:

  • Increase vegetation diversity
  • Use native plants that pollinators are adapted to
  • Provide overwintering habitats (like wood, constructed boxes, and open sandy soils)

Projects underway

Nectar Trail, Shaughnessy

This "pollinator pathway" of bee-friendly habitat islands on 37th Avenue links Queen Elizabeth Park, VanDusen Botanical Garden, and a larger pollinator garden in Oak Meadows Park. The project is a community initiative led by Environmental Youth Alliance (EYA) in partnership with the City, Park Board, and local residents and schools.

Park Board staff are working with EYA to expand the pollinator habitats in Oak Meadows Park.

Learn more about Nectar Trail

Pollinator Corridor Project, Downtown Eastside

As part of an initiative to create bee habitat, enhance green spaces, and strengthen community along East Hastings, Hives for Humanity worked with the Park Board to install mason bee houses and flowering plants in four area parks. Find the bee boxes at McLean Park, Oppenheimer Park, Crab Park, and Pigeon Park.

Learn more about Pollinator Corridor

Flower meadow at Empire Fields, Sunrise

A seed mix of pollinator-friendly wildflowers from the Pacific Northwest was added to the grass mix used to replant the slopes next to Empire Fields in Hastings Park. 

Green Streets Program

Park Board staff are working with the City's Green Streets Program to improve benefits for pollinators on volunteer-run boulevard and street gardens. Traffic circles and greenway plantings are an excellent way to increase pollinator habitats along City streets.

Beautify your boulevard and street 

Reduced mowing

The Park Board is testing options for reducing – but not eliminating – mowing in some parks. This includes areas along the Stanley Park Seawall slope, Oak Meadows Park, and Ceperley Meadows near Lost Lagoon. By design, these areas will have more weeds. Most test areas will at least be mowed by the end of the growing season.

Pollinator education

Education is a key part of the Pollinator Project. Five hundred garden signs, as well as information sheets, seed packets, and gardening advice have been provided to gardeners and local residents. The goal is to increase awareness of practical ways to support pollinators.

Work leading up to this project

The Environmental Youth Alliance (EYA)  , the Vancouver Park Board, and the City of Vancouver launched Pollinator's Paradise in March 2009. This project is dedicated to improving habitat around the city for the Blue Orchard Mason Bee, an important native pollinator.

Three super lodges, accommodating up to 720 females bees, were installed in larger, high profile parks in order to increase awareness about the importance of pollinators to our ecosystems and our food system. The Stanley Park Ecology Society are stewards for the Rose Garden super lodge. 

Fifty smaller lodges were also are installed by volunteer stewards across Vancouver in parks, community gardens, greenways, and other public spaces. Built by Vancouver Technical Secondary School students, the smaller lodges potentially house up to 72 egg-laying female mason bees.

The Blue Orchard Mason Bee (Osmia lignaria) is non-aggressive, propagates easily, and is an extremely effective pollinator. The EYA -initiated project has received funding from Environment Canada, the Vancouver Foundation, Canadian Wildlife Federation, and TD Friends of the Environment Foundation.

In late March and early April 2014, the Pollinator Project was supported by motions by the Vancouver Park Board and City Council.

Donate to the Pollinator Project

Honey bee feeding on a lavender flower

To contribute to the Pollinator Project, donate online or by mail today.

Your donation will help create pollinator gardens to increase honey bee and bumble bee populations.

Donate now

Support pollinators in your garden

Pollinator Project

Support bees and butterflies

Learn five ways you can support pollinators in your garden and get a list of plants that bees and butterflies will love.

Who is involved?

  • City of Vancouver
  • Vancouver Park Board
  • VanDusen Botanical Garden
  • Environmental Youth Alliance
  • Hives for Humanity
  • Local schools including Eric Hamber Secondary School and École secondaire Jules-Verne