top of page

The Buzz

Updated: Apr 3

Newsletter of the Native Bee Society of British Columbia April 2024

Volume 5 | Issue 1


Editors-in-chief: C. Thuring & M. Marriott

Contributors: Bonnie Zand, Sky Jarvis, Lynda Stevens, Helena Gadzik, Julia Taylor

Cover image: Halictidae (Sweat bee) on buttercup

photo: Sarah Johnson

Buzz Straight to Article:


BC Bee Atlas and Master Melittologist Update

by Bonnie Zand

Microscope on picnic table; melittology work in the field
Tools of an Apprentice Melittologist at work in the field

Over the 2023 season the BC Master Melittologists collected 1263 bee specimens to contribute to the BC Bee Atlas. Each specimen is  associated with a plant that provides important resources to that bee. Preliminary identifications of these bees showed that the collections included more than 78 species, from 27 genera, and foraging on 128 different plants. These specimens included both specialist foragers, such as the snowberry bee (Dufourea holocyanea), and an undescribed Cuckoo bee associated with it. The samples also included generalist foraging bees, such as five species of sweat bee and fifteen different bumble bee species. Species introduced to BC were also observed, both species that were already known, and a previously undocumented introduced species. As the BC Bee Atlas continues to look through the collected data, we expect to continue to make amazing discoveries and to contribute to BC knowledge on the plant species that our bees rely on! 

If you would like to join us for the 2024 season, registration for the Master Melittologist Apprentice Program is open! Learn more and register here.

We are planning training and collection events in both Nanaimo (May 18th) and in Penticton (June 22-23). See Upcoming Events in this issue of the newsletter for more information.

If you would like to support our BC Bee Alas initiative to allow us to continue to analyse our data, you can make a donation to the program here.


Bee City and the NBSBC

by Sky Jarvis

The Native Bee Society of British Columbia became affiliated with the Pollinator Partnership Canada’s Bee City initiative in 2023. We are now part of a 190-member community of like-minded organizations committed to protecting pollinators, including native bees. In this article, we will share some updates on Bee City Canada in hopes that our members can gain awareness of this program and potentially engage their communities, schools, and/or workplaces in becoming a part of this national movement.

A bee in the Nomada (cuckoo bee) genus foraging on yarrow. Photo: Sarah Johnson.

Mission: to recognize and support municipalities, Indigenous Communities, campuses, schools, and other organizations that are taking action to protect and promote pollinators.

Vision: for Canada to be a world leader in pollinator conservation – a place where people and pollinators can thrive together.

The Bee City Canada program launched in 2016, soon after Toronto became the first Bee City in Canada. This program has expanded to engage not only municipalities, but also Indigenous Communities, university campuses, primary and secondary schools, businesses, and churches. Program members commit to the program’s action framework which includes the following 3 broad categories:

A bee in the Halictidae (Sweat bee) genus foraging on buttercup. Photo taken by Sarah Johnson.
A bee in the Halictidae (Sweat bee) genus foraging on buttercup. Photo: Sarah Johnson.

1. Protecting and promoting pollinators through habitat creation and management.

2. Community education and engagement.

3. Celebration of Pollinator Week.

If you are interested in learning more about how to engage your community in becoming a Bee City or how to evaluate the ability of your organization's actions to protect and promote our native pollinators, check out their new Handbook. This guide includes a comprehensive list of goals, objectives, and real-life examples that can and have been taken to support pollinators in communities across Canada! Currently, there are only 8 BeeCities within BC - yet we house the highest diversity of Native Bees in Canada, with nearly 600 recorded species. 

The NBSBC will be going through this handbook in detail to assess our impact(s) and identify areas of improvement as they relate to habitat creation and management, as well as public education and outreach.


Sky Jarvis is an executive board member of the NBSBC, and has been volunteering with the Society for almost three years. She is a Biologist and Forester for a Community Forest outside of Kamloops, BC. In her spare time, she is an avid naturalist and loves to share her profound appreciation of Nature with others, especially her son Cedar.


Field Observation of Triepeolus at Melissodes Nesting Area in Nanaimo

by Lynda Stevens

On September 1, 2023, I made an interesting observation at the Nanaimo River estuary. In an area of coarse sand I noticed many Triepeolus bees hovering over the ground, and some were madly digging into the soil. I then noticed several larger Melissodes females also digging. Triepeolus is a genus of cuckoo bees in the family Apidae. There are at least 140 described species in Triepeolus and the majority of species whose life history is known are kleptoparasitic in the nests of bees in the tribe Eucerini, especially the genera Melissodes and Svastra.

Melissodes and Triepeolus bees, Sept 1, 2023. Photo: Lynda Stevens

I assumed that I had discovered a Melissodes nesting area, but I was confused about the digging behaviour of the Triepeolus since I had read that they enter open nests to lay their eggs. So I took some videos of what I was seeing and contacted Dr. John Ascher, Assistant Professor at the National University of Singapore, who is a regular bee identifier on iNaturalist. After viewing the videos he felt that it was likely that the Triepeolus were trying to break through the filled up nest openings to the main burrow so they can access the cells while the Melissodes is still out foraging. He also suggested that I contact Dr. Thomas Onuferko, Research Associate at the Canadian Museum of Nature, who is a Triepeolus specialist. After reviewing the videos, Dr. Onuferko sent me this detailed explanation of what was probably happening:

“My guess is that the Triepeolus are either searching for hidden (i.e., plugged) nest entrances or pretending to be constructing their own nests to make themselves inconspicuous to the Melissodes, for which they're waiting to leave so that they can lay their eggs inside their nests while the hosts are foraging. In a paper by Clement (1984) entitled "Observations on the behavior of Triepeolus nr. eldredi Cockerell (Hymenoptera: Anthophoridae)," the author observed another species of Triepeolus (with the current accepted name T. texanus) digging through plugged tunnels of active nests of Melissodes druriellus, so I'm inclined to think that your bees are doing the same: exploring for hidden nest entrances.”

Dr. Onuferko also identified the Triepeolus as T. paenepectoralis.

It is always interesting to observe and learn new bee behaviours and I appreciate that both Dr. Ascher and Dr. Onuferko took the time to view the videos and offer their expertise. Here is a compilation of the YouTube videos showing the behaviour in both slow motion and real time. Enjoy!


Lynda Stevens is an amateur nature and wildlife photographer living in Nanaimo. Pollinators have become some of her favourite subjects to photograph and she hopes to do more videos this summer. Check out her YouTube channel at


Bee-Inspired: Musing on Melissodes

by Helena Gadzik

In the quiet moments of artistic inspiration, I found myself reaching for a brush to immortalize a tiny marvel on canvas – a newborn Melissodes bee. As the colours danced and blended, my thoughts couldn’t help but drift towards the intrepid BC Master Melittologist students, whose dedicated work and discoveries often set my heart abuzz with excitement.

Acrylic painting of male Melissodes bee on honeysuckle.
Male Melissodes on honeysuckle. Acrylic. Painting by Helena Gadzik

With each stroke, I sought to capture the delicate fuzziness of the newborn male bee, it’s tiny form a testament to the intricate wonders. The small canvas became a tribute to the BC Bee Atlas Project initiative’s tireless efforts, a nod to the countless hours spent studying the bees that grace our world.

As the colours of turquoise blended in the painting, I couldn’t help but marvel at the connection between art and science. It became a shared journey of exploration, where the paintbrush and the microscope intersected, each revealing a facet of the wonders hidden within the intricate tapestry of life.

British Columbia’s native bee species play a crucial role in maintaining the delicate balance of ecosystems. As expert pollinators, they contribute to the reproduction of numerous plant species, ensuring the vitality of the region’s diverse flora. Beyond their ecological significance, these bees have become ambassadors of biodiversity, capturing the imaginations of those who take the time to observe and appreciate their unique traits.

So, whether it’s the long antennae of the male Melissodes, the pantaloon-like fuzzy legs of the females, or the captivating eyes the draw you in, the Melissodes bees stand as a testament to the rich biodiversity that thrives in the stunning landscapes of the British Columbia. As we marvel at their unique features, let us also celebrate and protect the diverse ecosystems that make BC a haven for these extraordinary native bees, and which make the BC Bee Atlas Project initiative so crucial!


Helena Gazdik lives in Campbell River, BC, and is a graduate of the Master Melittologist Apprentice Program. She has been a member of the Native Bee Society of BC since 2022, and is also a member of the Washington Native Bee Society.


Ongoing Event: City Nature Challenge 2024

City Nature Challenge: Metro Vancouver Regional District (MVRD)

Join others throughout the Metro Vancouver Regional district who are participating in the City Nature Challenge, part of a global event to observe and record the biodiversity of living things! Help us to explore and share the incredible biodiversity of our area by observing nature all around us - birds, bats, bees, molluscs, trees, ferns and more!

The City Nature Challenge for the Metro Vancouver Regional district area is a partnership of 21 municipalities, one electoral area and one treaty First Nation, scəẃaθən məsteyəxʷ (Tsawwassen First Nation). Join Nature Vancouver and all its partners in iNaturalist to help us record as many WILD plants and animals as possible throughout the Region's land, air and water.

While you're on iNaturalist, don't forget to share your bee sightings on the NBSBC Bee Tracker, too!


Upcoming Events

Warmer weather brings added opportunities to participate in local outreach events. Below is a list of upcoming events already on our calendar, though others may arise over the coming months - keep an eye on our website and social media channels for updates! Incidentally, we welcome members to join us as volunteers at many of these events. Volunteering is a great way to expand on your bee knowledge and share your love for native bees with your community. If you’d like to volunteer at these or any other events, please send us an email ( with the subject “Event Volunteer.” If you are already participating in an outreach event on behalf of native bees, we'd love to hear about it! Please email us to let us know!

Saturday, April 13 (10 am-12pm), Bee Workshop at Pine Street Pollinator Park

The NBSBC is pleased to offer a 30-minute workshop at the Pine St. Pollinator Park. Register here for a hands-on workshop that teaches how you can support pollinator habitat. This event will launch the City of Vancouver and Vancouver Parks Board’s new Seeding Stewardship program, which is very exciting!

Sunday, May 5 (10am- 3pm), The River Never Sleeps, Fanny Bay, BC

NBSBC will be at this free family and community festival at the Rosewall Creek Hatchery to celebrate Salmon, and of course, native bees! We hope to see you there!

Saturday, May 11 (10am-2pm), The Great Salmon Send-Off, at Stoney Creek Community School

The NBSBC will host a table with lots of great bee resources at this fun event. Please come by and say hello! Organized every year by the Stoney Creek Environment Committee, visitors can release coho smolts, get entertained by local school groups and artists, and eat/ drink from the concession stand run by local youth. Find out more here.

May 9-12, BC Nature Conference and AGM, Qualicum Beach, BC

The NBSBC's Sky Jarvis will be attending this year's BC Nature Conference in Qualicum Beach. Look for her and say hello if you are also there - she'd be happy to talk native bees with you!

Saturday, April 20 (10am-2pm), Earth Day Celebrations, Moodyville Park, North Vancouver

Come visit the NBSBC table at the City of North Vancouver's free Earth Day event - we'll have lots of info on native BC bees! Enjoy the family-friendly activities including games, activities and community booths. Find out more here.

Wednesday, April 24, 7pm. Native Bee Study Group (Zoom)

Join the Native Bee Study Group for our April meeting! Our online study group meets on the fourth Wednesday each month (except December) at 7 pm via Zoom, hosted by Bonnie Zand.This group is open to all levels of bee knowledge. We look forward to seeing you there. RSVP here.

Sunday, May 19, Mini Bee School (Bee Biology and Identification), Nanaimo (9:30am-4:30pm)

Have you ever wanted to know how to ID the amazing diversity of bees buzzing around your flowers? Where do they nest, what do they eat, and how can you support them? Join our Bee Biology and Identification Workshop! This one day, classroom-based session will provide you with identification strategies for the most common bees on Vancouver Island, as well as in depth information on their nesting, overwintering, and flower preferences! This class is suitable for beginner to intermediate students and will focus on recognizing our common bumble bee species and our common solitary bee genera. We will be examining bee specimens using low magnification digital microscopes, focusing on features that can be observed in the field and in photographs. Taught by instructor Bonnie Zand, this workshop is made possible by the support of BC Nature and the BC Naturalist’s Foundation - thank you! Learn more and RSVP here.

June 19-22, BC Bee Course, Penticton

Taught by Lincoln Best, our BC Native Bee Course is coming to Penticton again this year!

Enjoy the three day lab session, or just join us for a weekend of field trips! NBSBC has a group site arranged for camping this year, so we expect this to be the largest aggregation of bee nerds in BC this summer.  

The lab component will take place over 3 days: June 19-21. Field trips will occur over the weekend of June 22-23, and will also be open to those who are not in the lab component. Learn more and register here.


Recent Events

Since our last newsletter in December, the NBSBC has led or been involved in a good number of events. These include, but are not limited to:

March 8, Podcast: Pollinators as part of our food ecosystem

Sarah Johnson, our founding president, gave an insightful talk on Shuswap Food Conversations that explored the role of pollinators in our food ecosystem. You can catch the podcast recording here.

March 12, Talk: Bumbling in the Pacific Northwest

Sarah Johnson gave a talk to the Washington Beekeepers about bumble bees in the Pacific Northwest.

March 14, Talk: Cities that Buzz

Christine Thuring, our current president, gave a talk to the White Rock & Surrey Naturalists Club about what we can do to support native bees in BC. 

March 14, Webinar: Resources to support native bees

Christine gave a talk to Metro Vancouver's popular “Grow Green Guide", a lunch-time livestream webinar that attracts hundreds of viewers, about what we can do to support native bees in BC. Watch the recording here, which includes Q&A about spring gardening.

March 20, Webinar: Plan Bee for Your Lawn: Tips for Supporting Plants and Pollinators

Sarah Johnson gave a talk to Shuswap Climate Action’s “Lose the Lawn Webinar Series” about ways to support plants and pollinators.

March 23, Launch event for BC Native Bee ID trading cards

We were thrilled to host the launch event for our BC Native Bee ID trading cards, featuring stunning images created by Cloudscape Comics artists. The event took place in front of the South Memorial Park’s field house at Ross Street, Vancouver. This marked the culmination of a huge project, led and managed by former NBSBC president, Lori Weidenhammer

The BC Native Bee ID trading cards were designed by Madeline Berger, Haley Boros, Jordanna George, Olive Pinard, Jess Pollard, and Matthew Nielsen. Guests were welcomed to pick up a set of cards, along with some free native flower seeds and a seasonal guide to plants for bees in the Lower Mainland. At our exhibitor table, participants got close-up views of local bee specimens, or drew their own funky bee designs on the materials provided.

We're grateful for the support of the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation Neighbourhood Matching Fund in bringing this event to life. Thank you to everyone who joined us for this celebration of art, nature, and the vital role of native bees in our ecosystem.


Bee or Bluff: A Biomimicry Quiz

by Julia Taylor

April Fool's Day brings out tricksters, and this issue shines light on some of the insect tricksters among us. Many insects have colouration and/ or body shapes that mimic our buzzing bee buddies.

This can sometimes be an evolved adaptation to ward off predators by impersonating insects--bees!--that are well-known to be able to defend themselves with their stingers.

Biomimicry is an evolutionary result of certain organisms imitating other organisms  (literally: imitation of the living). In our case, bee mimics are other insects that resemble bees. Specifically, it is called Batesian mimicry, which means something harmless is imitating something dangerous. Such tricksters may look like bees, but they cannot sting (though some may nip or bite!).

Take our quiz to see if you can determine which flying critters below are bees and which are bluffing! You can check your answers at the bottom of the newsletter.

Bee or Bluff?


Julia Taylor joined the NBSC Board in 2023. She has worked, studied, and volunteered in the conservation realm for nearly a decade, and recently completed her Bachelor of Science from UBC, specializing in ecology, biodiversity, and sustainable food systems. There, she conducted bumblebee biodiversity surveys at UBC Farm and on blueberry farms around the Fraser Valley, falling further in love with the diversity of native bees and their habits.


Plant-Based Foodie: Bee-Inspired Cuisine

Calling all foodies! Native bees rely on plants for their plant-based diets. This column is dedicated to vegan recipes, though you don’t have to be vegan to enjoy them! We invite all readers to associate native bees with good food.

Vegan Sugar Cookies

Recipe shared by Sky Jarvis

For an extra challenge try experimenting with natural food dyes.

Wet Ingredients

Photo by Nicholas Safran on Unsplash

1/2 C vegan butter

1/2 C cane sugar

1/4 C brown sugar

1/4 C pumpkin purée

1 tbsp vanilla extract

Dry Ingredients:

1 1/3 C flour of choice

1/2 tbsp cornstarch (binder)

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt


1/2 C vegan butter

2 1/2 C powder sugar

Splash of dairy free milk


1.Mix the butter and non-dairy milk; once combined mix in the pumpkin purée, vanilla, and sugar.

2. Add dry ingredients to a sifter, then sift mixture into wet ingredients

3. Mix with a wooden spoon until a soft dough is formed (DONT OVERMIX) - if dry add a splash of dairy free milk.

4. Place dough into the freezer for 15mins

5. Preheat over to 350

6. When ready, roll out cookies (1 tbsp each) - or use cookie cutters for shapes

7. Cook for 10-12 minutes and let cool before removing from parchment paper

8. Add frosting


Do you have a vegan recipe to share? It can be anything (snack, main, drink, dessert) and it doesn't have to be fancy. Send it to us via email with the subject heading, “Newsletter: Plant-based Foodie.”


Answers to Bee or Bluff Quiz:


Connect with us on:


Instagram: bcnativebees

Twitter: @BCNativeBees

Interested in getting involved with the society?

Contact us at:

655 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

The Buzz


bottom of page