GARDENS4BEES – Church-going bees, who’d have thought . . .


Murray Hunter, Diocese of Huron, Enviro-Action member
Article from the Ontario from the Ontario Bee Journal, May-June 2014

Beekeepers have found surprising new allies across Southwestern Ontario, in the form of ten Anglican parishes, who are transforming their church gardens into gardens for the bees.

Funding comes from the London Community Foundation through the Julia Hunter Fund, whose mission is to support public gardens. The Project emerges from a simple idea: a church can be seen as an organized group of volunteers who control land.

Many churches have a concept of stewardship of the earth, but these ten are bringing this ancient concept into today’s world to meet today’s urgent needs.

A subsidy to start the garden, a chance at a financial prize to encourage excellence, and a Bee Fest celebration to wrap it up – there is the project in a nutshell.

One church is laying out a garden with the paths in the shape of the diagonal St. Andrew’s cross. At another, Rogation Day (May 25) will feature the usual outdoor procession, but after each of the nine traditional prayers, someone will dig in a pollen-source plant. A London parish is hosting a major fundraiser to propel the project into the future and to a wider audience.

Partnership support has been outstanding. The World Wildlife Fund is supplying each site with WWF-branded butterfly-weed seed for each site; a Nature Conservancy staffer is helping as judge and adviser, and Lee Valley Tools is supplying plant markers to make tours easier.

There are still lots of ways for beekeepers to show support for this worthwhile effort. Speakers at events, participation at Bee Fest, gifts in kind, donations to silent auctions – or simply contacting your local Anglican parish anywhere from Windsor to Owen Sound to Brantford.

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