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Toronto is set to become Canada's first official "Bee City" this March, helping in the fight to save the pollinators from extinction.

Toronto set to become Canada's first official 'Bee City'

Caroline Floyd

Friday, February 26, 2016, 3:12 PM - Toronto is set to become Canada's first official "Bee City" this March, helping in the fight to save the pollinators from extinction.

The movement, led by Toronto city councillor Michelle Berardinetti, aims to have the city certified by Bee City Canada as championing the cause of this vital part of our ecosystem.

Toronto, which is home to more than 300 species of bees, boasts a healthy urban beekeeping community, with apiaries popping up downtown from High Park to the roof of the Royal York Hotel.

Certification is the next logical step for the city, according to Councillor Berardinetti, who told the Toronto Star:

“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.”

City council will consider the motion on March 10, and the city could be certified by the end of the month.

UN Reports warns over dangers of pollinator loss

The buzz around Toronto's drive to save the bees comes as the UN's Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) issues a new report warning about the catastrophic implications of the death of pollinators world-wide.

The report, issued February 26, 2016, cites the importance of the world's more than 20,000 species of wild bees in food production - 75% and up to $577 billion USD worth of crops annually depend, at least in part, on animal pollination.

It is dire news, then, that the report estimates 16 per cent of vertibrate pollinators are currently threatened with extinction, and more than 40 per cent of invertebrate species threatened locally.

In a release by the IPBES, Vice-chair Sir Robert Watson commented on the causes:

"Wild pollinators in certain regions, especially bees and butterflies, are being threatened by a variety of factors. Their decline is primarily due to changes in land use, intensive agricultural practices and pesticide use, alien invasive species, diseases and pests, and climate change."

The report authors - which was compiled by 77 experts combing over more than 3000 scientific papers for two years - suggest the best ways to bolster the bee population include crop diversity, decreasing the use of pesticides, increasing the number of hives worldwide, educational outreach for farmers, scientists and the public, and mitigating the effects of climate change.

Sources: Toronto Star | Bee City USA | Toronto Bee Keepers Co-operative | The Guardian | IPBES

Watch below: Toronto is no stranger to urban beekeeping. Pearson International plays host to its own cohort of busy workers. See how they stay cozy for the winter.

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