The BIMBY Project

BIMBY (Bees In My Backyard) is a citizen science project helping bring attention to Toronto’s more than 350 species of wild bees.

About the BIMBY Project

The David Suzuki Foundation launched BIMBY (Bees in My Backyard) in 2018. It’s a joint citizen science project with University of Toronto Scarborough researchers to study Toronto’s more than 350 wild bee species.

In 2018, we recruited more than 100 households to take part. They created “wild bee sanctuaries” in their gardens, installed custom-made wild bee hotels and monitored visiting bees from May through October.

This year, BIMBY is expanding to 150 households in the Toronto area. Learn more at the David Suzuki Foundation store. Participants can buy BIMBY citizen science kits for $125 in early April.

The BIMBY Project will help citizen scientists in Toronto identify wild bees, like mason and leaf-cutter bees, that visit their yards, while collecting valuable information for the research team.

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  • Mason bee

    A third of solitary bees are cavity-nesters, like this mason bee which makes nest cells in the hollow stems of dead plants and in dead wood.

  • Mining bee

    Two-thirds of solitary bees make nest cells for their offspring in the ground, like this mining bee.

  • Bee hotel

    BIMBY bee hotels were designed by Dr. Scott MacIvor at the University of Toronto Scarborough.

What are "wild bees"?

There are more than 20,000 species of bee, with new ones being discovered every year. In Canada, there are more than 800 species, with over 350 in the Toronto area.

Unlike bumblebees and honeybees, which live in social colonies, most wild bee species in the Toronto area are solitary bees.

Approximately two-thirds of solitary bees make nest cells for their offspring in the ground. About a third of solitary bees are cavity-nesters, making nest cells in the hollow stems of dead plants and in dead wood. These are the less-studied bees that the BIMBY Project will be focused on.

Why should we care about bees?

Like their domesticated honeybee cousins, wild bees need our help. Many are experiencing population declines due to habitat loss, disease and pesticide poisoning.

Bees pollinate our crops, providing us with one-third of the food we eat. In cities like Toronto, backyard fruits and vegetables are pollinated mostly by wild bees. Bees also allow wild plants to reproduce and produce berries, fruits and seeds. Loss of bee populations poses a risk to our agricultural systems and to ecosystems that support other wildlife.

Fixing this big problem can start with some small solutions. Each of us can create pollinator-friendly habitat in our yards to support local bee populations. If each of us does our part, the collective benefit will be significant.

How can I help wild bees?

Gardeners can encourage wild bees by leaving bare soil for ground-nesters and nesting sites for cavity-nesting bees. Filling your yard with native plants that bloom throughout each season provides a wild bee buffet. Go natural by mowing less and avoiding herbicides.

To learn how to create your own backyard bee haven, check out these five easy steps from the Queen of Green.

If you want to bring BIMBY Project to your neighbourhood next year, please get in touch with project lead Jode Roberts.