Bees, Butterflies, and Green Roofs

The importance of bees and butterflies in our ecosystem is well-established. In Ontario alone, there are over 400 different bee species and over 100 butterfly species. As pollinators, they play an important role in ensuring that our plants and trees are pollinated: this means they transfer pollen from a male anther of a flower to the female stigma of the same species of flower. Seeds can only be produced if this process is successfully completed. The health of our living environment depends on the existence of pollinators as they help our trees and plants reproduce, of which we are a main beneficiary as we enjoy the fruits, blooms, and vegetables of their labour.

Unfortunately, pollinators are often negatively affected with the growth of our urban areas. Key to minimizing the negative effects of urban development on urban pollinators is replacing the green areas lost to development and by increasing the amount and diversity of plant life. Green roofs can help! Urban development and building design should take into account the needs of the many species that already exist in these spaces and to consider how building design and architecture can help maintain these species in these same spaces. By incorporating green roofs into building design, what would be empty rooftop space is utilized and habitats for bees and butterflies that may otherwise be displaced are created. The benefits of green roofs in creating habitats for pollinators can be maximized through effective design; for example, by using green roof systems that allow for meadow or shrub plantings.

A reduction in natural areas is oftentimes an unfortunate side effect of urban development. This reduction in natural areas can be ameliorated by incorporating the living environment into the built environment by using the areas available to us to create green spaces. Green roofs have a key role to play in helping reduce the loss of natural areas by creating and preserving habitats for bee and butterfly species to flourish in our cities.


“Flitter, flutter, here come the butterflies of spring and summer!” Ontario Nature,

“Guess how many types of bee call Ontario home?” Ontario Parks,

“What is Pollination?” U.S. Forest Service,