Published on July 14, 2020
What’s All the Buzzzz About?
Our Botanical Arts city is buzzing with native bees and it’s something to bee excited about! Bees are important for human survival; they pollinate a variety of plants and improve the overall biodiversity of our community. They’re also responsible for helping put food on our tables. One out of every three mouthfuls of food we eat is dependent on a pollinator.
There are over 300 wild bee species in Alberta and most of them are solitary ground nesters. Here’s what makes them unique:
- They don’t live in colonies; they make individual nest cells for their larvae.
- They don’t produce honey or wax.
- They are very efficient pollinators. With no pollen baskets to carry pollen, they lose far more pollen than social bees, which means more pollen lands on other plants they visit.
- One red mason bee is equivalent to 120 worker honeybees in the pollination it provides.
We’ve debunked some popular myths and we hope they help you live in harmony with the bees around your yard.
All Bees Sting - No
- Not all bees can sting. Male bees cannot sting, as the stinger is modified for egg laying. Despite having a stinger, the females of many bee species actually cannot sting. Most bees will not sting unless they are provoked or threatened.
Adult Bees Live a Long Time - No
- Solitary bees only live a few weeks, just long enough to mate, build nests, and produce offspring.
All Bees Live in Hives – No
- Most bees are solitary and live in individual nests in soil or tree trunks. About ten percent of bee species are social, and only a small percentage of them build hives.
How can you bee a good neighbour?
With bees being so important to our survival, it’s important to educate ourselves on how we can help out.
- If you have native bees in your yard, leave them be so they can pollinate, and their population numbers can increase. Come fall, the bees will have finished their lifecycle.
- Build or purchase a solitary bee house, which serves as a bee’s permanent home for eleven months and its nesting site.
- Create a pollinator garden in your yard to encourage pollination and to provide bees with a safe habitat. It’ll also bring color and beauty to your home!
- Be a little messy with your yard. Some bee species nest underground, so leaves, wood chips and other organic material make for a great habitat.
- In your garden beds, avoid using weed cloth or heavy mulch and reduce the use of pesticides/herbicides to help preserve the health of our bee populations.
- Learn even more about native bees from the Alberta Native Bee Council.
- Discover fascinating information about pollinators and how you can help conserve and protect them in this Government of Canada publication: Native Pollinators and Agriculture in Canada
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Last edited: July 15, 2020