Severn Man’s Efforts Result in Township Becoming the Next Bee City for Pollinator Preservation

A closeup of a monarch butterfly, one of the world's pollinators, photographed by Matt Thomson of Severn Township.

By M. Samuel Anderson
Awakening Editor

SEVERN TOWNSHIP, Ontario—The Severn Township Council voted May 15 to give its final approval to adding Severn’s name to the growing list of Bee Cities in Canada.

That’s according to activist and Severn resident Matt Thomson, who was instrumental in informing township officials about the program and raising their awareness about the importance of saving pollinators (bees, butterflies etc.) at a time when monarch butterfly populations are just starting to slowly rebound and bee colony collapse is widespread. Such declines put the human food chain at risk.

Thomson, 31, noted: “I didn’t know about Bee Cities Canada until I talked to John Devine,” referring to the Awakening News’ associate editor who has been networking about the Bee Cities program in the greater Lake Simcoe region.

Thomson added that he then attended the annual meeting of the Couchiching Conservancy, an area land trust, in March, where the idea of making Severn a designated Bee City area was favorably mentioned, according to Thomson.

That became a turning point for Thomson, whose paternal grandfather was a founding member of that trust.

From there, he contacted Severn. And in two votes, one in April and the other one in mid-May, the inclusion of Severn was approved by the Township Council after Thomson had sent the appropriate information and paperwork to the local government.

With the designation approved, all that remains is for area resident Shelly Candel, who heads Bee City Canada, to present the township with a formal certification of its Bee City status. That presentation was expected to happen soon as of this writing on May 21, 2019.

Interestingly, while Matt hadn’t heard of the Bee Cities Canada program until early this year, he’s been planting pro-pollinator vegetation for several years, given his interest in the preservation and growth of wildlife—flora and fauna.

“I’ve been planting milkweed, which is crucial for monarch survival,” he told Awakening News. “Monarchs feed on the flowers but they also lay their eggs on the plant.”

He has been planting milkweed, as well as appropriate types of flowers in raised-bed garden boxes, on a vacant corridor of land, owned by a farmer friend alongside an underground gas line.

Thomson also got involved in the Monarch Watch program from the University of Kansas and was able to confirm that a monarch butterfly that he marked with a special harmless numbered insignia made it all the way to Mexico after a migratory flight of about 4,150km.

As things stand May 21, the cities of Orillia and Barrie were still moving toward becoming Bee Cities, with Barrie a little further along than Orillia.

The chief cause of the decline of pollinators is the widespread use of certain pesticides, although there is a growing concern in some quarters over the effects of electromagnetic radiation on birds and bees.


Newsweek magazine reported in a May 19, 2018 web post linked here about a “new report further confirming that electromagnetic radiation from power lines and cell towers can disorientate birds and insects and destroy plant health. The paper warns that as nations switch to 5G this threat could increase. . .

{EDITOR’S NOTE: 5G is the next generation of communications infrastructure, especially upgrades of cellphone towers for all communications for what’s called “the internet of things,” which is envisioned by some as a means to make the Internet available in every corner of the world. The apparent plan is to have many more towers and other communications infrastructure.}

“In the new analysis,” Newsweek continued, “EKLIPSE, an EU-funded review body dedicated to policy that may impact biodiversity and the ecosystem, looked over 97 studies on how electromagnetic radiation may affect the environment. It concluded this radiation could indeed pose a potential risk to bird and insect orientation and plant health. . .

“This is not a new finding, as studies dating back for years have come to the same conclusion. In fact, one study from 2010 even suggested that this electromagnetic radiation may be playing a role in the decline of certain animal and insect populations. The radio waves can disrupt the magnetic “compass” that many migrating birds and insects use. The creatures may become disorientated. . .

“The electromagnetic radiation also interrupted the orientation of insects, spiders and mammals, and may even disrupt plant metabolism.”


Pollinator decline refers to the reduction in abundance of insect and other animal pollinators in many ecosystems worldwide, beginning at the end of the 20th century, and continuing into the present.

Pollinators participate in the sexual reproduction of many plants, by ensuring cross-pollination, essential for some species and a major factor in ensuring genetic diversity for others. Since plants are the primary food source for animals, the reduction or possible disappearance of primary pollination agents has been referred to as “ecological Armageddon,” due to the dire nature of the consequences to world food production.

Probable explanations for the decline in pollinators can be attributed to the use of pesticides, diseases, habitat destruction, air pollution, climate change, the effects of monoculture (especially in regards to bees), and competition between “native and . . . invasive species.”

Pollinators, which are necessary for 75% of food crops, are declining globally in both abundance and diversity. Bees, in particular, are thought to be necessary for the fertilization of up to 90% of the world’s 107 most important human food crops.