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Early Spring Bee Plant Watchlist for Coastal B.C.

The B.C. bee watching season has begun in the warmer parts of the province. It's so exciting! This year we'd love you to keep an eye out for bee sightings on some key foraging plants and add them to your iNaturalist Bee Tracker sightings. With the help of our members I've made a list of some of the plants we're seeing bees on in the south coastal regions.

When you are taking a photo of a bee--try to get as close as possible, and take photos from the side, front, and back. Crop the photo so we can really focus on the bee "warts and all". It doesn't matter if it's a perfect picture, but we do really need to see things like the back legs of the bee, the face, and the abdomen to ID it to genus or species.

We get many sightings of what looks like the yellow-faced bumblebee (Bombus vosnesenskii). If you are wondering why we ID it to Pyrobombus, it's because there is a VERY slim chance it might be a similar bee called Bombus calignosis. (More on this in a later blog post.)

After you post the photo of the bee, you can make a separate observation of the flower it is foraging on and link it to the post and/or you can add the plant to the notes or the Observation Field.

Here's an example:

So we have what looks like Bombus vosnesenskii which we ID to Pyrombombus. I asked the observer what the plant is. Nathan IDed it as Columbia manzanita. (Thank you!) He pulls down the menu for observation fields, chooses "Feeding on" and adds the plant. (You can do this to genus or species.) If the bee is on a rock or anything that is not a plant, you are off the hook and don't have to do this, but it's always nice to see if you have any notes about the behaviour of the bee or the habitat in which it was found, ie a community garden or the side of a steep cliff. (Bee careful out there!)

If you are really good at botany, you are welcome to go in and help ID some plant associations from last year's observations too. Just please be polite to the observers and judicious about your IDs. You can always tag someone if you need a second opinion!

We REALLY appreciate all your work and we are going to make some fun educational materials using the info we collect in our Bee Tracker project. Have fun and happy early spring bee watching!

Native Shrubs:

Willows (Salix spp.)

Hairy (or Columbia) manzanita (Arctostaphylops columbiana)

Osoberry (Oemleria cerasiformis)

Red-flowering currant


Exotic Shrubs:

Japanese andromeda (Pieris japonica)

Nativar Shrubs:

Red flowering currant cultivars ie ‘White Icicle’

Exotic Perennials:

Dutch crocus


Winter Heather

Native Perennials:

Spring Gold (Lomatium utriculatum)

Blue-eyed Mary (Collinsia)


Red Deadnettle (Lamium purpureum)


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