Happy Earth Day! The grounds and landscaping crews at Fairwinds have been busy as proverbial bees over the past few weeks, and the results of their hard work is plain to see both on the course and throughout the entire community.
Golfers may have noticed some new additions to the Audubon garden near #14. Ten tiny Garry oak seedlings were planted, and are now under careful protection and the watchful eye of our landscaping team. Garry oaks are very slow growing trees, and seedlings can take 5 or more years to grow to 1 m in height, though eventually they grow between 12m and 35m tall. Garry oaks are the only native oak species to British Columbia, and these trees and their associated ecosystems provide critical habitat for a number of rare or vulnerable species of plants, animals, and fungi.
Two mason bee houses were also put out this spring, along with several hundred bee cocoons ready to hatch. Mason bees are very important pollinators for trees, flowers, fruits, and vegetables, especially as honey bees and other pollinators appear to be at risk across North America and around the world. Mason bees are solitary bees and do not have hives. This means they are quite docile and very rarely sting as they are not protecting a queen or nest.
There are no “worker” bees and they do not produce honey or beeswax. Instead, fertilized females lay their eggs, along with a pollen and nectar food supply, in narrow holes or tubes with a partition of mud between each egg. The mason bee gets its name from its habit of building these mud compartments.
A bat box was also installed on the side of the golf course maintenance building, and while bats are not the most cuddly of neighbours, they are important pest controllers, eating mosquitoes and other insects. You may not ever notice them swooping out at dusk and back in at dawn, but we all benefit from having fewer pests in our yards!