TRU recognized as a ‘bee’ campus? ‘Bee’-lieve it

"Bee City" campus certification comes after the city of Kamloops was named B.C.'s first "Bee City" in 2017.

Make way for the bees.

The buzz began when TRU, already a leader in environmental sustainability, took hold of the opportunity to amplify its efforts further through the Bee City Campus designation.

“What motivated me to apply for the designation is that we are already doing many of the things that are being advocated for in that designation,” said Courtney Mason, a TRU professor and Canada Research Chair in Rural Livelihoods and Sustainable Communities. “So things like basically looking at helping the natural spaces on campus and educating people of the importance bees.”

James Gordon, the Manager of Sustainability Programs, shared Mason’s sentiments about the importance of bees, highlighting that the project is concerned with supporting all native types of bees, not just the honeybee.

“At the heart of it is trying to create a healthy environment for all bees and subsequently the greater flora and fauna of the campus,” Gordon said.

Bee City Canada endorsed TRU as a “Bee City Campus” due to the campus meeting the required thresholds, including but not limited to raising awareness about pollinator diversity, inspiring individuals to become more self-aware about the role that they have to play in environmental sustainability and cultivating plants that are pollinator friendly. Gordon added that TRU has taken the initiative to “plant certain new types of plants that will be good for the pollination for bees” and will be “tree planting on May 9th whereby the university will be planting five or more fruit trees that are good for pollinators and bees.”

According to Gordon, another initiative TRU will be working on is establishing “mow zones” in select areas around campus where grass can grow naturally without being mowed.

The abovementioned strategy is important since “world native pollinators are under threat because of pesticide use,” Mason said, adding that TRU “wants to make sure that there are pesticide-free zones” and that the campus has “the right habitat to support pollinators,” inclusive of “wild spaces on our campus, which involves striking a balance between developing infrastructures like roads and new buildings.”

TRU is also taking measures to ensure campus members are further educated on the bee-friendly campus initiative.

“For signage, we will be erecting some large educational signs. We want students or faculty who may not know much about bees to be educated so they can take that knowledge back to their homes, backyards, and other places in the world,” Mason said. “We take students to the hives, and we show them bee activity and the life cycle of the bees as a way of encouraging them to learn more about bees, especially native pollinators …that means it requires working with diverse expertise across campus from lots of different fields [ranging] anywhere from groundskeeping, faculty science, tourism management here and other areas.”

Some long-term environmental sustainability goals the campus has include “a biodiversity audit of the entire campus that will involve an audit of both plants and animals,” Gordon said. Once TRU has the data for the “certain calendar year that the project commences…after two or three years, the biodiversity committee will relook at the data and conduct subsequent audits so that we can compare new audits to the baseline year,” Gordon said.

Ellen Kazembe can be reached at