The Buzz about Bees

This blog is written by guest blogger Eric Davidson.

Bees are all around us. You can spot themhon all across Canada, wherever there are flowers to pollinate. Bees contribute enormous value to society; their pollination is a crucial part of agriculture. According to a 2014 report by the U.S. government, Honeybees alone contributed $15 million to the American economy—and let’s not forget about that delicious honey!

Photo of a bee on a sunflower

Bees in Canada

Bees are very diverse; there are around 40,000 different species around the world. In this country alone, there are around 1,000 different species of bees. Some have been here for a long time, while others are new arrivals. Honeybees, for example, made the trip with European settlers when they first came to Canada. You can also find Bumblebees and many others.

Introverts and Extroverts

While Honeybees and Bumblebees are famous for their hives and social behavior, many species of bee aren’t social at all. In fact, of all the different types of bee out there, only around 500 live in colonies. The others prefer to mind their own beeswax. Miner Bees, for example, carve out little nests in the ground for themselves, while Megachile Bees make their homes in dead plant stems.

Conservation

The number of bees around the world has been dwindling in response to numerous threats, known as Colony Collapse Disorder. While it’s a complex problem, we know that two of the main contributors are loss of habitat and use of dangerous pesticides.

Environmental groups are calling on governments to ban the use of dangerous pesticides. In America, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a goal of restricting pesticides that are affecting bee populations. In Canada, the Ontario government is phasing in regulations to limit such pesticides.

To study how bees’ North American habitats are changing, a citizen-science project called Bumble Bee Watch is asking regular people to document bee sightings.

Another group, Wildlife Conservation Canada, is working on creating captive breeding colonies of yellow-banded Bumblebees.

Photo of a bee on a purple flower

Fun Facts

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