Building buzz: Dal designated Canada’s 20th Bee Campus for pollinator protection efforts

- December 13, 2023

Students work in a pollinator garden on Dalhousie's Studley Campus. (Provided photos)
Students work in a pollinator garden on Dalhousie's Studley Campus. (Provided photos)

In a buzzing development, Dalhousie has officially been designated the 20th Bee Campus in Canada. 

Bee City Canada, a Canadian non-profit dedicated to inspiring cities, towns, First Nations, schools, businesses and other organizations to take action to protect pollinators, offered Dalhousie the designation after assessing its pollinator initiatives.

Becoming a Bee Campus requires demonstrating a commitment to creating habitats that foster the well-being and survival of pollinators such as bees, along with education initiatives and an annual celebration during pollinator week. 

“We enjoyed [learning] about the habitat efforts that Dal has already made and plans for continued habitat creation,said Jordan Phelps, coordinator with Bee City Canada, in a message to the university. "Habitat is food and shelter for pollinators and . . . also the factor that is limiting their success and survival.” 

Shown right: A bee enjoys a bloom on Dal campus.

Dal boasts a diversity of gardens on its campuses, including an Indigenous pollinator garden, a Hügelkultur garden bed, and a pollinator wall on Studley Campus in Halifax. On the Truro Campus, an impressive collection of gardens — including the Bicentennial Botanical Garden, Alumni Gardens, Butterfly Pollinator Garden, Cultrivat8 Garden, and Herb Garden — contribute to a thriving ecosystem. 

“Dalhousie University's commitment to sustainability and pollinator well-being has now gained national recognition, marking a significant step towards fostering a healthier environment for both the campus and the broader community,” says Emily McLean, a student pollinator researcher and garden coordinator.

Dal provides support to Bee City Canada through an annual fee that helps the non-profit in its pollinator-friendly mission.  

“By contributing to Bee City Canada, we align ourselves with a network of institutions collectively striving to make a positive impact on pollinator well-being and environmental sustainability,” said McLean.

Recommended reading: Indigenous pollinator garden honours community figure while adding natural appeal to Dal campus

Creating a buzz -- together

She is part of Dalhousie’s very own pollinator team that leads initiatives related to protection across campus. The team, which  includes staff, faculty and students from various departments, was praised by  Bee City Canada, for its size and the diverse roles its members play in campus initiatives.

Bee City Campuses promote pollinator protection initiatives, educate students and staff about pollinator importance, cultivate attractive pollinator habitats on campus for biodiversity, and engage various departments in biodiversity and pollination-related studies and conversations. 

Dalhousie was recognized, in particular, for its efforts in constructing pollinator habitats and its future plans for new habitat creation. Habitats play a big role in the success and survival of pollinators. 

"Your plans for nesting areas for bees demonstrate thoughtful strategies to minimize pests while offering students a chance to observe solitary bee behavior —an exciting and educational initiative," said Phelps.  

Flowers grow near a pollinator wall on Studley Campus.

Dal’s work planting native species and maintaining diverse gardens on campus was applauded as was the university’s plans to create nesting areas for bees that will emphasize the importance of small spaces to minimize pest issues and using transparent materials for student observation. 

Other initiatives that helped support Dal’s designation included:

• The university's plans for pollinator habitat signage, complete with QR codes for detailed information, were commended as an excellent opportunity for educating students about planting for pollinators. (Stay tuned for our webpage, which will launch under the Office of Sustainability).

• Dal’s commitment to educating students about the magic of solitary bee life.

• Dalhousie's initiative to celebrate Biodiversity Day, with special mention of plans for pollinator-specific events and faculty involvement. 

Ecological advocacy

As an official Bee Campus, Dalhousie will be invited to Bee Campus meetings where campuses share initiatives and discuss opportunities for collaboration.

Dal’s designation underscores the university’s commitment to environmental sustainability and represents a pivotal step in supporting pollinator well-being. 

“Through this initiative, we aim to unite research and artistic expression with ecological advocacy, embodying our dedication to a diverse, inclusive, and environmentally conscious campus culture,” said McLean.

If you have questions or would like to get involved, email

Recommended reading: Planting project aims to restore biodiversity in a charming corner of campus


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