Abell Pest Control bee hives.

Relocating bee swarms, funding bee research and promoting beekeeping are just some of the ways Abell Pest Control, Ontario, Canada, protects pollinators and raises awareness of the worldwide bee population decline. As part of its Abell Saves Bees program, the company distributed 10,000 wildflower seed packets this summer to celebrate World Honey Bee Day (held in September).

Abell Saves Bees was started in 2017 after the company completed a swarm relocation and began reviewing its role in saving and protecting bees, said Mike Heimbach, director of business development and marketing, Abell. “As pest control professionals, we know a lot about insects. And, while we’re often charged with controlling insects that pose risks to people, we’re also highly educated and really fascinated with the ones that are beneficial to the public,” he said.

The packets, sent out as part of various mail campaigns, allow Abell customers to plant a small wildflower garden for wild bees. Planting the flowers is especially important in urban centers where bees do not have as much access to wildflowers, Heimbach said.

The company hopes the wildflowers will promote bee health awareness while also generating interest in the University of Guelph’s School of Environmental Sciences Honey Bee Research Centre, where Abell pledged $25,000 in scholarships over five years for bee research.

An Abell employee relocates a bee swarm. Swarm relocation is an important part of the Abell Saves Bees program.

An important goal for the Abell Saves Bees effort is to fund and promote research surrounding bees and the declining worldwide bee population. In addition, Abell aims to spread bee welfare awareness by encouraging its employees and the public to get involved. One way Abell does this is by building beehives and participating in beekeeping. According to Heimbach, the company now has six beehives throughout Canada. “Every cause is important, but this is a cause that people at Abell really get behind and there’s been a lot of people wanting to start beehives,” Heimbach said. “It just creates a lot of really interesting activity for us.”

Another aspect of Abell’s bee work, and the root of its Abell Saves Bees effort, is swarm relocation. The company routinely gets calls about honey bee swarms and relocation requests from the public, Heimbach said. To properly manage swarms, Abell will coordinate beekeepers who can properly move the swarm to a safe location and will cover the costs for individuals who made the initial call.

“It’s functionally very important, too, because swarms, they can get into people’s homes and bad places and cause a lot of problems,” Heimbach said. “And if you capture them while there’s still a swarm instead of waiting — if you’re willing to do that — then you’re going to save a beehive swarm that could end up getting destroyed otherwise.”

Heimbach added that he is always happy to talk to groups about honey bees and that he and Abell are continually seeking ways to promote pollinator protection. — Erin Ross