Just like governments need a census to know what’s happening with its citizens, their homes, families and jobs, there is a movement now that says bumble bees need their own census. Not enough is known about wild, native bees in Canada. And what scientists do know is worrying.
Friends of the Earth Canada is calling on residents of Barriere to join the Great Canadian Bumble Bee Count and help scientists learn more about these important pollinators. All it takes is a simple snap of a picture of the bumble bees you see in your garden, park or campsite and upload to Bumblebeewatch.org.
The Canadian member of Friends of the Earth International, one of the world’s largest grassroots environmental organizations, is partnering with Bumble Bee Watch to deliver the first ever Great Canadian Bumble Bee Count.
Bumble Bee Watch, created by scientists from the Xerces Society, York University and Wildlife Preservation Canada, is an ambitious citizen-science project that asks people to take pictures of bumble bees when they see them, note their location and upload them online, where they will be verified by a team of researchers.
For the Great Canadian Bumble Bee Count, organizers want to help Bumble Bee Watch’s researchers by seeing how many bumble bees people can find across Canada from now until August 15; this is when bumble bees are at their most active. The queen bumble bee has already made her new nest in the ground and started the new colony.
Bumble bees are effective pollinators for many of the crops we eat and for many of the wildflowers in our fields and forests, but several of their species are dramatically declining. Though there are over 40 confirmed species of bumble bees in Canada, they have little proper monitoring. As many as one-third of North American bumble bee species are in decline.
There are now six wild bee species determined to be critically at risk (assessed by scientists with the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada). They need protection by governments. And, if you find one of the four bumble bees listed, please take a picture and record it under the Great Canadian Bumble Bee Count project code at bumblebeewatch.org. It will help scientists determine where and how best to protect them.
• Nova Scotia, the Macropis Cuckoo Bee, and the Sable Island Sweat Bee
• British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan, the Western Bumble Bee occidentalis
• Yukon, Northwest Territories and British Columbia, the Western Bumble Bee mckayi
• All over Canada, the Gypsy Cuckoo Bumble Bee
• Nova Scotia, from Yukon, Northwest Territories, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, the Yellow-banded Bumble Bee
These bees are still waiting to be officially listed under the Species at Risk Act to trigger protection and recovery work.
Anyone can help keep track of and protect these bees by participating in the Great Canadian Bumble Bee Count and joining Bumble Bee Watch today. All you need is a camera and some curiosity to find the bees in your town. To get started or find out more go to: www.foecanada.org/
Look for bumble bees where you garden, at your cottage or camp, on your trips to meadows and parks. Take their pictures and record your sightings at bumblebeewatch.org to help scientists learn more about them and the protection they need.