Saturday, March 18, 2017

How You Can Help Alberta's Beautiful Bumblebees

Bumblebee Species of Alberta:  21 species plus 4 cuckoo bumblebee spp.

Hey Alberta, you have an abundance of bumblebee species to celebrate! These are the bees that give you big fat tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, squash, blueberries and pollinate many beautiful native and cultivated flowers and berries. I've listed the species below so you can research any one or more in detail and I've added some tips on how you can help these sweet and vulnerable species.

1) White-shouldered Bumblebee (Bombus appositus) long-tongued
2) High Country Bumblebee (Bombus kirbiellus , formerly B. balteatus) long-tongued, rare
3) Black-notched Bumblebee (Bombus bifarius) medium-tongued
4) Cryptic Bumblebee  (Bombus cryptarum) (formerly B. moderatus) medium-tongued
5) Great Basin Bumblebee aka Central BB (Bombus centralis) long-tongued
6) California Bumblebee (Bombus californicus aka B. fervidus ssp. Californicus) and Golden Northern Bumblebee (Bombus fervidus) long-tongued
7) Yellow-fronted Bumblebee (Bombus flavifrons) medium-tongued
8) Frigid Bumblebee (Bombus frigidus) rare, medium-tongued
9) Brown-belted Bumblebee (Bombus griseocollis) medium-tongued
10) Hunt’s Bumblebee (Bombus huntii) medium-tongued
11) White Tail Bumblebee (Bombus jonellus) medium-tongued, Northern
12) Black-tailed Bumblebee aka Orange-rumped Bumblebee (Bombus melanopygus) medium-tongued
13) Mixed Bumblebee aka Fuzzy-horned Bumblebee (Bombus mixtus) medium-tongued
14) Nevada Bumblebee (Bombus nevadensis) long-tongued
15) Western Bumblebee (Bombus occidentalis) short tongued, rare
16) Perplexing Bumblebee (Bombus perplexus) short-tongued, rare
17) Red-belted Bumblebee (Bombus rufocinctus) short-tongued
18) Forest Bumblebee (Bombus sylvicola) uncommon, medium-tongued
19) Tri-coloured Bumblebee (Bombus ternarius) medium-tongued rare in west, more common in east
20) Yellow-banded Bumblebee (Bombus terricola) short-tongued, rare
21) Half-black Bumblebee (Bombus vagans) medium long-tongued
1) Ashton Cuckoo Bumblebee (Bombus bohemicus)
2) Fernald Cuckoo Bumblebee (Bombus flavidus, formerly B. fernaldae)
3) Indiscriminate Cuckoo Bumblebee (Bombus insularis) long-tongued
4) Suckley Cuckoo Bumblebee (Bombus suckleyi) uncommon (ICUN red list)

 Special thanks to Lincoln R. Best for help compiling the list above.

What Makes a Good Bumblebee Garden?
•A biodiverse selection of organic bumblebee flowers that bloom in each season (Spring, Summer, Fall) with no forage gaps: for an Alberta Bumblebee plant list see the post below.
Flowers with a variety of corolla lengths to suit small, medium and long-tongued bumblebee species
•Local organic native bumblebee plants that are high quality source of nectar and pollen
•Nesting and hibernation sites
•The inclusion of plants that exclude other bee species to ameliorate competition, esp. plants that exclude honeybees, including buzz-pollinated flowers
•Long-blooming drought tolerant plants
•Medicinal plants for bumblebees to help them fight diseases and pests
•Interconnected hotspots of forage: use hedgerow model, ditches, boulevards to provide corridors for bumblebees to date, mate and procreate
•A critical mass of interconnected forage with groupings at least 1 m square, herbaceaous plants, shrubs and trees with high blossom and high reward density (esp. in areas with a high honeybee population
•Areas with forage spots that are protected from wind
Steps you can take to protect bumblebees:
Do not load your neighborhood with honeybees that compete directly with native bees
Do not support greenhouses that use farmed bumblebees, which have been advocated in the spread of disease and steep decline in native bumblebee species.
If you see a stranded bumblebee, give her some sugar water (50/50) or just water and put her safely in the sun near some flowers.
Educate other people about the importance of bumblebees.
•Take part in the citizen scientist studies of bees such as The Great Canadian Bumblebee Count. Record your sightings. Take photos of the bee from as many angles as possible: Think head, thorax, abdomen—get all the parts documented.
Build a bumblebee box for families of bees to move into your garden!: Advice for deploying bumble bee nest boxes (domiciles), January 2016, Luc Pelletier & Ralph Cartar*
 Local native plants and seeds:
Native Plants for the Short Season Yard by Lyndon Penner. (This is a must-have book for the Albertan bumblebee gardener!!!!)
My book is now available through West Coast Seeds! Add a copy to your seed order! Victory Gardens for Bees: A DIY Guide to Saving the Bees

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