Farmers urged to promote native pollinator health

(Photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / Weisman)

A Grey County bee specialist advises farmers to promote the health of native pollinators.

Janine McGowan points out the common honey bee we usually see is not native to North America.

It was brought from Europe by early colonists.

While she doesn’t deny the value of the common honey bee, she says they can be detrimental to native species by competing for resources.

McGowan says native species do a much better job of pollinating.

“Humans are definitely drawn to honey bees. We’ve had an ancient connection with them. It’s now time to say that there is such a thing as too many honey bees because they compete for resources depending on how scarce the resources are,” said McGowan.

Her advice to promote the health of native bees is to plant hedgerows between fields, mow less leaving weeds and grass, and mainly just allow things to grow as naturally as possible. McGowan adds honey bees of all kinds have a cultural significance.

“There are ancient cave paintings showing honey gatherers. People do definitely revere the honey bee. I do as well. At least I find when I’m working with homey bees it’s like, if the bees are OK, I’m OK.”

McGowan was a presenter on Ecological Day at Grey Bruce Farmers’ Week.