Kawartha Lakes annual 'Bee a Hero' challenge promotes pollinator-friendly gardens

With Pollinator Week running from June 17 to 23, it's time to remind residents in the City of Kawartha Lakes they can create a buzz by taking part in a contest to benefit the local bee population.

Bee City Kawartha Lakes is hosting its fifth annual "Bee a Hero Garden Challenge." The initiative recognizes residents who create pollinator-friendly gardens.

The challenge for the 2024 installment of Bee a Hero is now on, and runs through to Sunday, September 15th.

It's an important initiative for Bee City Kawartha Lakes, Christine Szabados, chair of Bee City Kawartha Lakes, told kawarthaNOW.

"The Bee a Hero Garden Challenge allows us to celebrate the successes of our community members in supporting diverse local and migrating pollinator populations within the City of Kawartha Lakes by creating or expanding upon their own native pollinator gardens," Szabados said.

"By increasing community awareness on the benefits of our native pollinator populations, as well as the significance of the threats that they face, this initiative has never been of greater importance."

All registered gardens are recorded on the City of Kawartha Lakes' "Pollinator Pathway," with the long-term goal of providing a continuous corridor of native pollinator habitat through the City of Kawartha Lakes, she noted.

To take part, residents must commit to providing a pesticide-free garden habitat and to using two of the tips listed within the “pollinator friendly gardens” section of the Bee City Kawartha Lakes website at www.kawarthalakes.ca/beecity.

Szabados encourages residents to consider planting native plants, providing water sources, and choosing a variety of host plants to ensure continuous blooms all season long. Participants are asked to submit before and after photos of their gardens.

Those who participate will receive a certificate of recognition from the City of Kawartha Lakes, and their gardens will be featured in a special presentation to city council. Winners will each receive a gift certificate from a local native garden nursery.

"We have truly been amazed by the diversity of creative garden styles and the natural beauty of each of our past participants' pollinator paradises," Szabados said. "We are very excited to see this year's garden entries."

Kawartha Lakes is the seventh municipality in Canada to be officially recognized as a Bee City by Bee City Canada. A "bee city" supports healthy pollinator populations and ongoing efforts to preserve and create pollinator habitat.

Bee City Canada's mission is to recognize and support municipalities, Indigenous communities, campuses, schools, and other organizations that are taking action to protect and promote pollinators.

To learn more about the Bee City program, visit the Bee City Canada website at beecitycanada.org.

Pollinator Week is an annual event celebrated internationally in support of pollinator health. It was established in 2007 by the Pollinator Partnership, a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and promotion of pollinators, the year after the U.S. Senate unanimously approved a resolution designating the first official Pollinator Week as the last week in June. Find out more at pollinatorpartnership.ca.

Natalie Hamilton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, KawarthaNOW