Photo: Day 1: Life without bees means life without chocolate

A busy bee working its magic (Credit: jacdean via Flickr)

Foodprint: Saving the planet from your kitchen table

Choices about what you eat can make as big a difference for the environment as how you get around. Before reaching for your favorite comfort food this Thanksgiving, join the David Suzuki Foundation for our 11-day challenge, Foodprint: Saving the planet from your kitchen table. Starting Oct. 5th, you could win an awesome prize just by sharing your story on Facebook. Plus you'll get helpful eco-advice from me, the Queen of Green.

Answer the daily Facebook question by adding your comment. Don't have a comment to share? Check out the others and vote for your favourite. We're giving out fabulous prizes for the comment with the most "Likes".

The planet doesn't need another fad diet. But how much do you know about where your food comes and the type of impact it's having on the planet? What are you doing to eat more sustainably?

Pollinators like bees bring us 75 per cent of the food we eat — including apples, chocolate, coffee and almonds. Without pollinators, we'd be stuck eating only wind-pollinated crops like wheat and corn.

We've all heard about the mysterious global disappearance of honeybees. Other bee species are also declining, mainly because of habitat loss. Pesticides and human development are a big problem for bees — even small amounts of pesticides affect bee longevity, memory, navigation and foraging abilities.

You can start to make a difference from your kitchen table:

  • Plan your spring bee-friendly garden now
  • Add organic foods to your next grocery list (then stay tuned for Day 3)
  • Go pesticide-free in your yard and garden
  • Find out where to dispose of old pesticides safely by checking out Earth 911

Speaking of bees, I bought 20 for $20 this spring from a local coffee roaster in my neighborhood. These weren't European honeybees; these were a native species of mason bee. Most of us already have them nesting or visiting our yard, but I bought some just to make sure.


I wanted to see for myself how I could have a positive influence on these solitary bees by giving them a roof over their heads, a bee bath to drink from and plants for food. What a pleasant surprise when they laid eggs in their house this spring — could hardly believe it — and now I wait to see the offspring emerge next March!

Intrigued? Consider purchasing a mason bee house of your own to put up next spring, or check out my instructions and my DIY video explaining how to build one of your own.

Bee-n there, done that? Tell us how your kitchen is already pollinator friendly and you could win a pair of tickets to Force of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie, showing at the Empire Cinema during the Vancouver International Film Fest on Oct. 6 at 8:45 p.m. Non-Vancouverites can win a copy of Candace Savage's book, Bees: Nature's little wonders.

How is your kitchen pollinator friendly?

Lindsay Coulter, Queen of Green

October 5, 2010

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Jul 05, 2014
12:24 PM

Shared this to facebook. Thank you. I watch the bees in my yard daily to keep tabs on if the colony bees let their buddies know that there’s an abundance of flowers. The solitary bees still seem to attract their neighbors, as well. No pesticides, many wild flowers, and many colorful nectar loaded other flowers, including vegetables and fruit. In fact, my apples blossomed, and were fully pollinated in days, and the wild roses and clovers have started to blossom. There’s more about to blossom in a couple more weeks. People think I’m crazy, but I’m doing my part. I even make sure to only buy organic, non-gmo verified if at all possible at that. My province (Newfoundland) is doing good with bees, according to CBC in 2013, but I want to make sure that continues.

Oct 08, 2010
3:35 PM

What is the difference between bees and wasps? People hate wasps but love bees! Wasps aren’t great pollinators, not like bees, but they do us and the environment a great service none the less. Wasp larva eat insects so the adult wasps are out everyday scouring the garden for what we consider pests; such as aphids, leaf hoppers, and caterpillars. Without them we would be over run by these small creatures. Just like bees not many wasp species are social, most are solitary, and most are unable to sting. The stinger on the social wasps and bees is a modified ovipositor (an organ for laying eggs). In the social hymenoptera that organ now delivers a nasty sting. In most of the solitary species that vicious looking protrusion is fairly harmless. It looks scary but really isn’t. Too bad that only on the cusp of losing our bees we just now decide to appreciate and protect them. Will it be the same for wasps?

Oct 06, 2010
11:58 AM

I’ve been expanding my garden space more and more each spring since moving into our home and it’s always completely organic. Except for one small bed where the dandelion seeds all seem to land (I will not spray my grass :P) they are all left un-tilled each year -I just spread each season’s compost on top and work in a bit extra at the time of planting in seedlings or seeds. I believe that the soil is in itself an ecosystem, each layer, depth, substrate hosts its own little community of organisms (nemetodes, earthworms, centipedes, Carabid beetles, bees!) and roto-tilling messes all of that up, forcing your garden ecosystem to re-establish itself. By leaving it be, we ensure that the system remains healthy and can take care of itself with a minimum of intervention. I’ve noticed leaf-cutter bees burrowing under flat rocks in the garden and snipping perfect circles out of my wild rose leaves to build their nests. Tilling would destroy all of their hard work :) I have been wanting to build some bee-condos for a while but it always seems to be overlooked in the flurry of spring gardening. I have a bunch of untreated scraps in the garage, I will add bee-home-building to my To Do list right now! (The bath is such a great idea, too.)

Oct 06, 2010
6:58 AM

We’ve just moved (July) into a new (to us) home in Strathcona. I’ve planted dozens of flowering perennial species that already attract a great variety of bees, wasps, other insects, birds, etc., hung 5 or 6 bird feeders and planted 18 trees, 3 of which flower. We now have a large kitchen herb garden & we’ll be adding Mason Bees & a honey bee colony, (80K bees) in the spring. This last week saw 400 spring bulbs go into the ground. I’ll be building an 8’ X 8’ partially above ground pond in the spring as well. Many of our perennials & wildflowers were chosen to attract butterflies. When we moved here in July, there was not a single thing growing, nor was there ever any sign of animal life. Neighbours on either side had completely paved back yards. We now have constant bird, squirrel & insect activity and the project has only just begun. By this time next year, it should be teeming with flying pollinators. That’s the plan.

Oct 05, 2010
10:11 PM

This spring I my partner and I bought a house in Ladysmith, B.C. This summer I planted many flowers and built a large raised bed system that will grow vegetables, herbs, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, a cherry tree and a plum tree! Next spring I will buy some mason bee houses, add a small water feature and — voila! a beautiful organic environment for bees, butterflies and birds. Its a small thing but I hope it helps.

Oct 05, 2010
12:23 PM

I totally agree! I mentioned bees on one of my blog posts last week,

Oct 05, 2010
11:23 AM

Dr. Elizabeth Elle of SFU at the recent Bee Symposium, hosted by the Langley Bee Club at Campbell’s Gold Apiary mentioned an important fact about urban bees. Although 80% of bee species are ground nesting and 20% cavity nesting (such as the Blue Orchard Bee), in our cities the ratios are reversed. This is an indication that we are not doing as great a job in the city preserving and conserving bees as we could do. Usually when we think of bees we think above ground but clearly we need to do more to respect our soils, to leave marginal areas untouched.

What soils do these ground nesting bees require? A diversity of soil profiles! Sloping, flat, hard clay, loose and friable, sandy and pebbly, all meet the demands of one bee or another. Many love edges and can be found nesting between paving stones while others are very attracted to poorly maintained lawns.

We need them all and they need us to recognize and respect where they nest. Bees are our bridge to the future. Hug a bee today! Brian

Oct 05, 2010
11:17 AM

With the hope of attracting more bees, I divided my bee balm and foxglove into six clumps this spring and they all established:) This year is the third year the bees have been in notable decline in my garden.It is sixteen years organic and has always supported a healthy population of bees of all description. Last year I was really concerned.This year it is worse and I am worried.

Oct 05, 2010
10:34 AM

What is the difference between Bees & wasps?

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