Bee City Designations go to Orillia, Severn While Local School Expands Involvement

IN SEVERN TOWNSHIP, Mayor Mike Burkett (center with plaque) , accompanied by Councillor John Betsworth (just to the mayor's right) and other supporters, received the official Bee City designation from Bee City Canada Director Shelly Candel (pink dress). [ALL PHOTOS AWAKENING NEWS]

By Awakening News / ON THE SCENE

ORILLIA, ONTARIO—Monday, June 24 was a pivotal day for the Bee Cities movement. Severn Township and the city of Orillia both received their official Bee City status and participating Orillia Secondary High School students received a visit from Bee City Canada Director Shelly Candel.

Orillia Secondary High School teacher Philly Stephens and two students show off signs made in-house and placed in the school’s pollinator-friendly garden.

During a 2 p.m. visit, Candel learned that the students and staff are taking the task of saving pollinators seriously by maintaining and expanding bee-friendly vegetation on a plot of land on school grounds. Teacher Philly Stephens added that, with the bee garden in place, there are plans to include pollinator studies in the school’s environmental sciences courses.

“That will be for next school year; we waited to make sure we had something to work with, so the kids have something to connect to,” Stephens told Awakening News—which accompanied Candel and fellow Bee City activist Jeannine Hutty on their travels that day to recognize these new members of the Bee City movement.

Orillia Mayor Steve Clarke, while holding the newly presented Bee City plaque, receives a bee lapel pin from Bee City Canada Director Shelly Candel during a City Council meeting the evening of Monday, June 24.

The movement centers around preserving and expanding the vegetation that’s the most hospitable to the hundreds of species of bees, as well as butterflies etc., which perform the pollination process and ensure the survival (i.e. the food supply) of human beings and animals. The things that threaten pollinators, such as the ingredient glyphosate in the Monsanto product “RoundUp,” of course are discussed, too.

As the day went on, it was mentioned that Bees are responsible for staple items like cotton, chocolate and coffee. “Without pollinators there are no bears—bears eat berries—and no oils . . .  sunflower and canola, oil, and all the nuts, too,” Candel remarked, as she presented an official Bee City plaque to Severn Mayor Mike Burkett, Ward 3 Councillor John Betsworth and others at noon Monday.

Regarding a complimentary activity separate from the Bee City program, Candel showed everyone outside township hall a June 17 letter she received from 10-year-old Grace Totten of St. John, New Brunswick about “Bumblekids.” Ten percent of “Bumblekids” seed kits, used for improving pollinator habitat, go to Bee City Canada.

Severn and Orillia officials, besides receiving a framed Bee City plaque from Candel, also received a framed, illustrated chart of well over 100 species of bees from BeesInYourBackyard.com. In Orillia just after 7 p.m., Mayor Steve Clarke happily received the  Bee City designation from Candel and spoke optimistically of Orillia’s role in helping arrest pollinator decline. Meanwhile, Barrie is intent on becoming Canada’s 30th Bee City.

There’s also a Bee City USA movement. Awakening News, which broke the story last fall that North America was seeing a major surge in interest in stopping bee colony collapse, is seen by Candel as having been instrumental in getting more Canadian cities on board by helping raise public awareness.