A local conservation group in Toronto is pushing for the city to become first "Bee City" in Canada as a way to help promote the importance of saving the insects from the brink of extinction.
City councilor Michelle Berardinetti and other residents have submitted an application to Bee City Canada to certify Toronto as a champion of bee conservation in the country.
Toronto is known to host more than 300 different species of bees, which are all being taken care of by local beekeeping communities. The city has several apiaries in its downtown area, such as in High Park and at the roof of the Fairmont Royal York Hotel.
Berardinetti explained that having Toronto be certified by Bee City Canada is the next logical step in the city's efforts to protect the pollinators.
"An added designation is about public education and community involvement," Berardinetti said. "Our city is already doing a lot in bee farming and protection, and we need to serve as a leading example to the rest of Canada."
Members of the city staff are already drafting a report that will be presented to the council in March. If approved, the application to Bee City Canada will help advance the Toronto City government's conservation efforts for bees.
Berardinetti, who is a bee and butterfly gardener herself, pointed out the importance of preventing the bees from dying out.
She said that people make a lot of money from the products that bees help create yet the insects themselves don't benefit much from it. The least people could do for the bees is to make sure their natural habitats are well protected.
Berardinetti added that if it weren't for the contribution of bees to pollination, a large number of vegetables and trees people know today wouldn't be able to exist.
Toronto's push for Bee City certification coincides with the release of a report by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) that warns about the potential implications if bee populations around the world were to die out.
The IPBES study highlights the significance of more than 20,000 various species of wild bees in the production of food for the people of Earth. As much as 75 percent ($577 billion worth) of agricultural products in the world are dependent on the pollination of insects and other animals.
Researchers at the UN agency estimate that about 16 percent of vertebrate species that help in pollination are currently faced with the threat of extinction, while 40 percent of invertebrate pollinators face the same level of threat.