Walker Industries Supporting Pollinator Health

Things are buzzing around Walker Industries….literally. Pollinating species are experiencing global decline due to the loss of habitats and flowering plants, as well as pathogens, parasites, and pesticides. Improving the health of bees and other pollinators is a necessity. Without pollinators, much of the food we eat and the natural habitats we enjoy would not exist. With the problem on the rise, the divisions of Walker Industries have sprung into action.

Walker Emulsions in Burlington, Ontario created a garden dedicated to pollinators and has built two Warre style beehives on its site. Alex Buchan, Plant Operator at Walker Emulsions has taken on the additional role of Beekeeper and actually built the hives himself. “It’s an interesting little hobby and I’m glad to be a part of the pollinator initiative, a worthwhile cause to bring back the bees”, said Alex.

Walker Aggregates has been supporting pollinator efforts for the past fifteen years. Grant Parsons, Heavy Equipment Operator at Walker Aggregates’ Duntroon Quarry is a Beekeeper in his spare time and keeps his bees right at the quarry. Approximately 2 years ago, bears destroyed the hives. With some innovative thinking, Walker Aggregates took an old decommissioned service truck and turned it into a “bear-proof” beehive for Grant’s bees. The hives were placed inside the truck and bees gain access to the hives through holes cut into the side of the truck, camouflaged with lovely painted flowers. “It’s working beautifully. With the honey bee population on the decline, I’m happy to do my part,” said Grant.

Walker also works with other local Beekeepers to establish locations to host hives. Having a location to house bees for the winter and early spring is critical to the success of beekeeping. Walker Aggregates currently hosts beehives at its Ontario quarries in Niagara Falls, Fort Erie, Vineland and Duntroon.

In addition to hosting beehives, each of Walker Aggregates’ sixteen sites have pollinator friendly flowers and plants as part of its site rehabilitation plans.

At Walker’s All Treat Farms location in Arthur, Ontario, the berms surrounding the facility have recently been covered with pollinator seeds. Seeds are a blend of self-seeding annuals and hardy long lasting perennials that will become a reliable food supply for pollinators visiting All Treat Farms.

Top left: Walker Aggregates’ innovative “bear-proof” bee habitat in Duntroon, ON
Top right: Walker Environmental’s Garner Road berm pollinating plants, Niagara Falls, ON
Bottom left to right:
Bat houses surround Walker Environmental’s Halifax Biosolids Facility.
Warre style bee hives at Walker Emulsions, Burlington, ON.
Planting pollinator seeds at Walker’s All Treat Farms in Arthur, ON
Walker employee Catherine Lucas and her daughter new to beekeeping

Walker Environmental’s
Niagara campus has taken on several projects to combat the issue. A wide variety of flowering trees, shrubs and wild flowers have been planted on the Garner Road berm surrounding its South Landfill (an approximate 4 hectare area). These plants pollinate from early spring to late fall to support pollinators all season.

At Walker’s East Landfill, the 20.2 hectares previously used for a University of Guelph Agricultural Study, is currently undergoing site maintenance to support the growth of pollinating crops and flowers. Walker Environmental is working with Beaverloch Farms to remove invasive species and prepare the area to have a sustainable pollinator habitat with native species. Once the invasive species are removed, red clover will be planted on the majority of the site and 1,000 m2 will be dedicated to a pollinating patch with the same variety of species as is being planted on the Garner Road berm. Again, this will provide an ideal habitat for nesting and pollinating all season long.

Walker Environmental also teamed up with Niagara College to support the inaugural year of its Commercial Beekeeping Program. The college reached out to Walker to place hives on its site, as they required more space for the hands-on learning component of the program and wanted to give students exposure to the different environments they will work in as commercial beekeepers. In addition to using Walker as an outdoor classroom for aspiring beekeepers, one of the college students will be conducting a special project for Walker. The project will monitor and track the pollinator habits on the 20.2 hectare agricultural study area of the East Landfill. The knowledge gained from this research will help Walker make future decisions for creating pollinator habitats on its sites.

Walker Environmental’s efforts are as far reaching as Halifax where employees planted flowers on the berm surrounding its Biosolids Proccessing Facility. The employees also built and installed ten bat houses around the property. Many people do not know that bats play a large role in pollination and are currently at risk in Nova Scotia due to White-Nose Syndrome.

Even Walker Employees are getting involved. Catherine Lucas, Software Developer at Walker’s Woodbridge office, always had an interest in bees. She took her interest and made something of it. Catherine is half-way through a beekeeping course being offered at a local apiary. The course, which runs for one full Sunday a month for six months, teaches participants how to assemble hives, install the bees, check and treat for diseases and collect honey. It also includes all the equipment and a hive of bees to get started. Armed with knowledge and agricultural land Catherine and her husband recently purchased, Catherine got started tending to her bees. “I’m just a beginner,” said Catherine, “but so far the hives are doing well. Even my daughter, who is 12, is helping and is pretty brave about handling the hives”.

Global concerns over the decreasing health and population of bees and wild pollinators have resulted in many jurisdictions taking action to protect pollinators. Walker’s efforts will go a long way to strengthen pollinator health.