Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Day One at Bee School for Kids: This Changes Everything

Bee school has begun! Marcus introduced the students to the world of honeybees and finished by letting everyone sample some honey straight from the comb.

The students were kind enough to share some honey with the sweet, non-stinging drones. My, what big eyes you have!

Then it was my turn to talk about the native bees, including these bumblebees that were robbing nectar from comfrey growing right next to the hive.

And this is the correct way for a bee to access comfrey nectar if her tongue is long enough.

The arugala flowers near the hive were feeding some of the tiny sweat bees.

Artist Jasna Guy graciously helped us make badges for bees and shared her awesome teaching resources with us.

We saw a lot of yellow-faced bumblebees and one student even caught three at once. They even noticed a bumblebee nesting site right by the honeybee hives.

One student caught a male European wool carder bee. She called it the wooly mammoth bee. "Lady, get me outta here!" (All bees we caught were released.)

Before heading off on a bee safari, we had a healthy snack.

And some folks brought their snacks along. We feasted on berries and found lots of bees. What a fun day!

But the most exciting thing was catching what I believe to be a very rare sighting in Vancouver: A California bumblebee (Bombus californicus). See how the head is black, not yellow like Bombus vosnesenskii?

Note how the body is long and lanky compared to other common Vancouver bumblebees.

Here the bee is raising a leg as a warning threat. So this means we really should plant a bumblebee conservation garden here at World in a Garden. This is a really important finding! It also means that it would not be a good idea to load the neighborhood with more honeybee hives. There are plenty of native bees here to pollinate the neighborhood plants. We need to support the bumblebees by planting flowers unique to their foraging needs in order to ameliorate competition with other bees.

Check out this new study from Norway regarding bumblebees losing the battle for forage with honeybees: Wild bees lose the fight for flowers.

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