Bees in My Backyard project looking for citizen scientists to help wild bees


TORONTO — The David Suzuki Foundation launched the Bees in My Backyard (BIMBY) project today. The joint citizen science campaign with researchers at the University of Toronto-Scarborough’s Department of Biological Sciences aims to bring attention to Toronto’s more than 300 species of wild bees. The Foundation is recruiting households to participate by creating “wild bee sanctuaries” in their gardens and monitoring bees that visit from May to October.

“Unlike domesticated honeybees and monarch butterflies, Toronto’s wild bees have largely flown under the radar,” said Jode Roberts, manager of the David Suzuki Foundation’s BIMBY and Butterflyway Projects. “The BIMBY Project will help our citizen scientists identify wild bees, like bumblebees and carpenter bees, that visit their yards, while collecting valuable information for the research team.”

A recent study concluded that more than 75 per cent of all flying insects have disappeared over the past 25 years in Germany, and likely elsewhere. Although climate change, widespread pesticide use and habitat loss are major drivers of these declines, researchers are keen to find ways to help support native pollinators like wild bees, especially in cities.

“Cities might provide refuge for many bee species because of citizen-led activities, such as home and community gardening,” said Prof. Scott MacIvor, who is leading the project for the University of Toronto-Scarborough. “Toronto is at the forefront of urban wild bee conservation, with actions such as the green roof bylaw, our protected ravines and the upcoming citywide pollinator protection strategy.”

BIMBY participants will be trained at a citizen scientist workshop on April 18, as well as summer and fall workshops. They will learn how to identify wild bees, from “tickle bees” to metallic green sweat bees, and create backyard wild bee sanctuaries. As citizen scientists, they will provide important data to researchers every two weeks through the summer. Each participating household will also receive a custom-made BIMBY Bee Hotel to install in their gardens. These nesting tubes will attract a variety of cavity-nesting bees, like leaf-cutter and mason bees.

The fee to participate is $125 per household, which covers the cost of the pilot project and includes three workshop trainings, ongoing support from DSF and UTSC, plus a variety of plants, seeds and background materials. Others can support the project by becoming a “Friend of BIMBY,” donating a BIMBY Citizen Science Kit to a local school or community group.

The BIMBY and Butterflyway Projects are generously supported by Nature’s Way and Cascades.

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For more information, please visit or contact:

Jode Roberts, Manager, BIMBY and Butterflyway Projects, David Suzuki Foundation, 647.456.9752,, @joderoberts

Dr. Scott MacIvor, Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Toronto Scarborough, 416.208.8191,, @jscottmacivor