Roll out the red carpet (of flowers) for native pollinators

A bicoloured sweat bee forages on the yellow centre of a New England Aster flower.
Bicoloured sweat bee on a New England Aster © Sara Shettleworth

Think carefully: how many kinds of bees can you name? Bumble bee, honeybee… any others?

There are an astounding 800 or so species of native bees in Canada alone! Imagine all the new bee acquaintances you could meet right outside your door.

Take the bicoloured sweat bee (Agapostemon virescens), which is metallic green towards its front end and boldly striped on its back half. Across southern Canada, you can find these small bees visiting flowers — notably asters — and nesting communally underground. It was declared Toronto’s “Official Bee” in 2018 because each sweat bee in those single-entrance nests gets its own separate unit, like a condo. (Yes, really.)

Then there’s the yellow-banded bumble bee (Bombus terricola), a species at risk in Canada. Found in every province and territory except Nunavut, and in habitats ranging from cities to grasslands to woodlands, this medium-sized bumble bee is distinguished by the positions of its yellow stripes. Look for it feeding on flowers of willow species, fireweed or a wide variety of other plants or perhaps nesting in an abandoned rodent burrow.

These are just two of the fascinating species you could attract — and support — by cultivating your green thumb. By contributing to an abundant and varied supply of native flowering plants, you can help sustain pollinator populations. Native plants can be especially beneficial to the native pollinator species that co-evolved in relationship with them.

How can I help native bees?

On our new site re:grow, you’ll find resources for bee-ing part of collective efforts to restore wildlife habitats in Canada by growing native plants. It has step-by-step instructions to support your native plant journey, from selecting the right seeds and plants to preparing soil and celebrating your first fruits, flowers and wildlife visitors. No gardening experience needed! Each re:grow action you take is measured and adds up to a bigger collective impact for nature and climate.

We hope you’ll join the re:generation and start this growing season with a buzz. Sign up today by creating your free account at

Video: World Bee Day

Native bees are helpful, cute — and most of them don’t sting! Discover even more reasons to love bees in this video.