Thursday 10 July 2014

Summertime is Bumble Bee Time!

As the birding slows down during the summer, it gives me a chance to revisit some of my other interests, which include insects such as bumble bees!  I first became fascinated with these amazing and important pollinators as an Algonquin Park naturalist where I worked during the summers from 2005-2008.  As I was finishing up my time there I decided to make a field guide to the bumble bees of Algonquin Park.  Check it out here:

You may be surprised to find that Ontario has over 20 bumble bee species.  Most of them can be readily identified just by looking at the various colour patterns.  So take a look at the species you have in your flower garden and see what you can identify!  If you snap a picture, you can submit it to Bumble Bee Watch which logs bumble bee observations here:

Interest in bumble bees has increased of late, ever since we realized that many pollinators including bees are in some real trouble in Ontario and abroad.  We currently have one species that is listed as Endangered in Ontario, the Rusty-patched Bumble Bee, which is only currently known from the Pinery.  Several other species are up for review by the government and will likely be added as Species at Risk in the coming years.  You may have heard recently that Ontario is considering a ban on certain pesticides called neonicotinoids which have been linked to the disappearance of bees in Ontario.  Hopefully this goes through, because we simply cannot afford to lose more pollinators, economically or ecologically.

Here are a few species that I have photographed that you may encounter if you take a moment to look closely at some of the flowers around you!

Confusing Bumble Bee (Bombus perplexus)
Tricoloured Bumble Bee (Bombus ternarius)
Yellow-banded Bumble Bee (Bombus terricola)
Common Eastern Bumble Bee (Bombus impatiens)
Northern Amber Bumble Bee (Bombus borealis)

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