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The Quarterly Buzz

Newsletter of the Native Bee Society of British Columbia October 2022

Volume 3 | Issue 3


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

Contributors: Rowan Rampton, Lincoln Best, Bonnie Zand, Christine Thuring

Fly Straight to Article:


NBSBC Board Call for 2023

The Native Bee Society of BC is planning for its 2023 year! As such, to continue growing our society and movement we are looking to fill some key positions on our board. As our current and previous boards attest, native bees attract a diversity of humans and there are countless ways to support native bees. We value diversity, collaboration and inclusivity, and extend a special welcome for applications to anyone from marginalized and under-represented groups.

All board member positions require the following:

  • Attend at least 80% of monthly Board meetings;

  • Commit to 10 hours or more of Board/Society work each month, including programming and/or administration tasks; and

  • Actively contribute to one or more projects/committees annually.

Board positions we are looking to fill:

President / Co-Chair

The NBSBC is seeking someone for the President / Co-chair position who demonstrates leadership, skillful delegation, strong public relationship abilities, and organizational qualities to establish an agenda and gently shepherd the Society as it continues to expand and strengthen.

Vice-President / Co-Chair

The Vice-President supports the role of the President, and takes over the presidential duties if the President is unable to perform them. In the past the Vice-President has taken on many of the administrative and organizational tasks of the society.

The above roles can be divided laterally into two Co-chairs or in a more traditional President/ Vice President scenario. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you would like to discuss further.

Member-at-large Positions

We are seeking additional members-at-large with the following specific skills to complement our current board:

  • Volunteer Engagement and Coordination

  • Social Media

  • Diversity and Accessibility Coordination / Liaison

  • Charitable Status Application


Research Corner

Plant Pollinator Network Visualization

by Rowan Rampton

Editors note: In this issue of Quarterly Buzz, we’re pleased to offer a glimpse into Rowan Rampton’s research and graphic interpretation of plant-pollinator interactions. The dynamic interactive figures are amazing, so make sure to click on the links provided.


Without flowering plants, the bees we love to watch, study, and identify would not have evolved into the fantastically diverse lineage they represent today. Many plants rely on pollinators because self-pollination, or inbreeding, often comes with downsides like poor offspring health and low genetic diversity (Husband & Schemske, 1996). Since pollinators can fly, they are able to move genetic material (or pollen) between flowers, sometimes across considerable distances, especially for bigger bees like bumblebees. Currently, the BC Conservation Data Centre (2022) has recorded 473 bee species in BC, with more to come as sampling and taxonomic knowledge improve. Of around 1900 species of flowering plants, shrubs, and trees found in BC (BC Forest Service, 2020), upwards of 80% are expected to benefit from or require insect pollination (Ollerton et al., 2011).

In exchange for help with reproduction via pollination, plants typically provide nectar and pollen rewards. These resources are a key reason that bees spend their days visiting flowering plants, as adult bees use nectar for energy, and typically gather pollen and nectar to provide food for their offspring.

Bombus occidentalis with pollen baskets full of camas pollen.
Bombus occidentalis with pollen baskets full of camas pollen.

At a given location, plant-pollinator interactions will be occurring between the plants and pollinators present. These interactions can be estimated by searching all the flowering plants at a site for visiting bees, then recording the identities of each plant and pollinator pair. All observed interactions can be used to generate a “network” of the interactions occurring.

A pair of male Andrena resting on camas buds on a cool morning.
A pair of male Andrena resting on camas buds on a cool morning

Network visualization

Plant-pollinator networks are inherently complicated due to the sheer number of species involved: dozens of plants and pollinators may occur at single sites, and it is theoretically possible that every combination of plant and pollinator will interact. In reality, only some combinations are observed and, like most sampling, will represent the most common interactions (Olesen et al. 2011). Identifying these common interactions is still important because at a community level, plant reproduction and pollinator sustenance are both likely to rely on the most abundant pollinator species, which contribute the largest number of interactions (similarly to Kleijn et al. 2015).

Network visualizations can guide both conservation and restoration efforts because they identify the plants that support the most bee species, as well as the plants that support a bee of conservation concern, and even which pollinators support a plant of interest (Kaiser-Bunbury & Blüthgen, 2015). Bipartite is a commonly used package (like a program) in statistical software “R”, that analyzes plant-pollinator networks and can produce visualizations like below. As you may note from the example of Figure 1, interpreting such output is more easily said than done.

Network visualization using bipartite's default.
Figure 1. A network produced using bipartite’s default function. Bipartite remains extremely useful for statistical analyses of networks, but visualization is not its strength.

The clearest information presented by this graph is that the network is complex. Below, I invite you to explore the output from a different R package that was designed to visualize networks that can be shared online and allow investigation through interaction. The package, bipartiteD3 (created by Chris Terry), combines R (the programming language used for statistical analysis) with the computer language JavaScript, thereby creating a webpage that can respond to user inputs (Terry, 2021). I am grateful to Chris Terry for having made this software available, as it takes network visualization to a level not previously possible.

The Kootenay Native Plant Society has been studying camas meadows and the plant-pollinator interactions within them as a baseline to guide restoration efforts. Using the same plant-pollinator interaction data that created the default bipartite graph above (Fig. 1), links are provided below to examples of how bipartiteD3 can be used to display plant-pollinator networks in a more coherent, informative and dynamic format.

A camas meadow in full bloom early in the spring.
A camas meadow in full bloom early in the spring.

If bumblebees are of interest, a figure can be made showing only the bumblebee interactions:

If one is particularly interested in a certain plant (like Camassia quamash), a figure can be made to show all bee interactions with that plant alone:

If one is interested in a particular plant or bee within a context of all interactions, those can be highlighted using different colours (as for C. quamash here):

Hovering your cursor over a plant or pollinator species in these figures shows the select species interactions. Viewing on a tablet or phone grants the ability to select a desired species and scroll freely around the rest of the figure. Alternatively, big screens are great for scroll-free viewing of larger networks. For those so inclined, interactive networks can be used to explore which plants support which bees, and vice versa, and to look for plants that support unique bees, although detection of such relationships may not be perfect.

Applications and Limitations

There are, nevertheless, some limitations to using networks that should be considered for larger projects or achieving conservation goals. For one, detecting rare pollinators requires large samples, and detecting the flowers they visit even larger samples (M’Gonigle et al. 2017). Next, figures produced using raw interaction data (as above) do not consider relative abundance of floral resources, so common interactions may be more related to floral abundance than bee preference. Another concern is how networks change over time, both between years and within a season. Bee communities are not known to be consistent from year to year (especially in drier areas), which means networks may differ quite dramatically over time (Petanidou et al. 2008). Networks based on a single year of sampling (as above) should be thought of as a snapshot in time until further years of data are available. Timing of sampling within a year is also important, as many bee species are not present throughout the season, and even within particular habitats may only be present proportionately to the availability of floral resources at a location (Guezen & Forest, 2021). If sampling does not correspond to when flowers are at their peak, fewer visits will be observed, meaning fewer interactions will be detected. One final and important issue is that when invasive plants are present, they appear to support high pollinator diversity but may be attracting pollinators away from native plants (Kaiser-Bunbury & Blüthgen, 2015). Many of these issues and more are discussed in a paper by Kaiser-Bunbury & Blüthgen (2015) which investigates the potential uses for networks in conservation and summarizes the components of network analysis that can inform or evaluate actions.

The above considerations are of lesser importance to the bee enthusiast or home gardener, and visualizations are instead the main point of interest. If interactive networks like those found above were available from nearby habitat, it would be relatively easy to begin a pollinator garden by identifying plants that support high pollinator diversity, as well as those that support any bees of interest (but remember to avoid introduced species and instead plant their native equivalents!).

Even when not used to achieve a specific goal, networks provide an opportunity to explore the relationships that occur between plants and pollinators. Interactive networks are an ideal way to achieve this, and can convert complex floral visitation networks into a format that can be appreciated, if not enjoyed by a broader audience.


The Kootenay Native Plant Society gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program for its contributions to the Floral Relations of Native Bees in Camas Meadows - Years 2 & 3, as well as the Native Bee Society of BC Community Engagement event: Wild Bees in Camas Meadows. We also gratefully acknowledge the financial support of MITACS via an ACCELERATE internship.


B.C. Conservation Data Centre, BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer (2022). (accessed May 27, 2022).

British Columbia Forest Service, Biogeographic Ecosystem Classification Program (2020). BC Flora Checklist 2020. (accessed May 24, 2022).

Cane, J. H. (2018). Co-dependency between a specialist Andrena bee and its death camas host, Toxicoscordion paniculatum. Arthropod-Plant Interactions, 12(5), 657–662.

Guezen, J. M. & Forrest, J. R. K. (2021). Seasonality of floral resources in relation to bee activity in agroecosystems. Ecology and Evolution, 11(7), 3130–3147.

Husband, B. C., & Schemske, D. W. (1996). Evolution of the magnitude and timing of inbreeding depression in plants. Evolution, 50(1), 54–70.

Kaiser-Bunbury, C. N. & Blüthgen, N. (2015). Integrating network ecology with applied conservation: a synthesis and guide to implementation. AoB Plants, 7, plv076–.

Kleijn, Winfree, R., Bartomeus, D., Carvalheiro, L., Bommarco, R., Scheper, J., Tscharntke, T., Verhulst, J., & Potts, S. (2015). Delivery of crop pollination services is an insufficient argument for wild pollinator conservation. Nature Communications, 6(1), 7414–7414.

M’Gonigle, L. K., Williams, N. M., Lonsdorf, E., & Kremen, C. (2017). A Tool for Selecting Plants When Restoring Habitat for Pollinators. Conservation Letters, 10(1), 105–111.

Olesen, J. M., Bascompte, J., Dupont, Y. L., Elberling, H., Rasmussen, C., & Jordano, P. (2011). Missing and forbidden links in mutualistic networks. Proceedings of the Royal Society. B, Biological Sciences, 278(1706), 725–732.

Ollerton, J., Winfree, R., & Tarrant, S. (2011). How many flowering plants are pollinated by animals? Oikos, 120(3), 321–326.

Petanidou, T., Kallimanis, A. S., Tzanopoulos, J., Sgardelis, S. P., & Pantis, J. D. (2008). Long-term observation of a pollination network: fluctuation in species and interactions,

relative invariance of network structure and implications for estimates of specialization.

Ecology Letters, 11(6), 564–575.


Rowan Rampton is a masters student at the University of Calgary studying the plant-pollinator interactions of camas meadows in partnership with the Kootenay Native Plant Society via a Mitacs internship. He worked on plant-pollinator projects in lower mainland blueberry farms and Tweedsmuir provincial park (which was NBSBC founding president, Sarah Johnson's project).


Native Bees’ Needs

Fall Edition

Autumn bee on goldenrod.
Bee on fall-flowering goldenrod.

With summer slowly winding to a close, most flowers have turned into seed heads and beeple like us start thinking “What can I do to help native bees in the autumn months?” Indeed, with autumn weather creeping in, adult and developing bees have started shifting their attention and energy towards preparing to overwinter.

We‘d wanted to dedicate this issue to the question of solitary bee houses (eg, habitat hotels, bee bricks, bee condos) and how to properly care for them. There are many types of artificial nesting structures that bees use, and equally numerous methods of care and maintenance. Unfortunately, the scope, complexity and controversiality of the subject overwhelmed our best intentions and timeframe, so this piece will be published in the winter issue. If you have any specific questions on this topic, please email them to us ( by mid-November.

As consolation, consider checking out the timeless content of Fall Gardening Tips for Native Pollinators, which includes fall-flowering plants that are great for native bees, from our October 2021 issue (Quarterly Buzz Vol 2 Issue 3).

--The Editors


NBSBC President and Co-Chair, Lori Weidenhammer, receives Norman Criddle Award

Madame Beespeaker was the Bee Safari guide at Riley Park community garden.
Lori (aka Madame Beespeaker) guiding a Bee Safari at Riley Park community garden. (See Quarter in Review for more details on this event).

Our intrepid President and Co-Chair, Lori Weidenhammer, was recognized by the Entomological Society of Canada in their Sept 2022 Bulletin (Vol. 53, Issue 3). Specifically, Lori was awarded the Norman Criddle Award, recognizing her contribution to the furtherance of entomology in Canada as a non-professional entomologist. Lori has worked for years using many art forms, and performance as bee characters in outreach and education. She also engages a broad scientific and public community through her efforts curating the iNaturalist Project: The B.C. Bee Tracker. She has done an admirable job communicating her knowledge and love for pollinators, and cultivating community in Canada.

Norman Criddle (1875-1933) was a pioneer in Aweme, Manitoba where he initially farmed for survival while studying and painting plants and insects. Ultimately his art attracted Dominion Entomologist and botanist James Fletcher and Criddle gained support from the Dominion Dept. of Agriculture to provide illustrations for technical publications on weeds and their seeds. This evolved to contract employment with the Division of Entomology and ultimately to the development of two laboratory buildings at Aweme.

The NBSBC is honoured and immensely appreciative to have Lori at our helm for the past year. Thank you from all of us.

--Lincoln Best


Bee Book Club

Book Review: Andrena A Mining Bee

by Bonnie Zand

Andrena: A Mining Bee, by author and illustrator, Elaine Sedgman (published May 2022).
Andrena: A Mining Bee, by author and illustrator, Elaine Sedgman (published May 2022). Cover image used with the permission of the author.

This delightful graphic novel illustrates the life of a lesser-known solitary bee. The title character, Andrena, is named for the genus Andrena, in the family Andrenidae. The common name for these bees is mining bees, and Andrena lives up to her name! Andrena struggles to find a safe nesting site, digs a tunnel 25 times her length and protects her offspring from kleptoparasites, all the while dealing with predators and poor weather. We see how her specialized “tools” allow her to do all this, and then watch her offspring grow and develop in the underground nest she has made for them. The book pairs scientific terms (e.g., insects and body parts) with cute illustrations (e.g., Andrena with a pick, shovel and tool belt).

This combination of science and whimsy makes for an engaging read, allowing the reader to feel an affinity with hard working Andrena. The book never preaches, but instead beautifully illustrates some of the dangers a ground-nesting bee can face, from farming practices to irrigation to cuckoo bees. And Elaine Sedgman has not shied away from bodily functions! Andrena splurts out liquid from her dufour’s gland and “blechhs” up nectar to create a pollen ball (and her larva have to poop “SO BADLY!” after eating it). While all these features will appeal to the target audience of 9–12 year-olds, this book is also a great intro for any adult looking to broaden their understanding of native bees beyond mason bees. The glossary and extra info at the back support readers wishing to branch out into further study of these fascinating bees.

Andrena: A Mining Bee can be purchased from Chapters /Indigo, or from independent bookstores. Or, email Elaine directly at


Bonnie Zand (she/ her), NBSBC Board member, is based out of the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island. Bonnie works at the intersection of pollinator ecology and agriculture: she runs an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) consulting company, “Bonnie’s Bugs IPM”, and leads the Vancouver Island Pests, Pollinators and Beneficials Project. Bonnie also contributes to pollinator conservation through outreach to garden clubs, bee clubs, and school groups, as well as through her work with the endangered Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterfly.


Quarter in Review

by Christine Thuring

Although summer 2022 still held us under the influence of Covid-19, notably the omicron wave, the Native Bee Society of BC managed to offer a bunch of fun activities. Certainly we’d have liked to offer more, however our aspirations were kept in check by the logistics and added administration and labour imparted by the pandemic. If you are inspired to help on outreach and/ or learn more about native bees together with others, please get involved! Consider attending our AGM on Monday, November 28. If you have an idea, please contact us via email or messaging. Below is a taste of some summer offerings.

Recent Activities and Events

View from Cheakamus Lake campsite. Photo: Jen Woodin
View from Cheakamus Lake campsite. Photo: Jen Woodin

June 16-18, 2022: Backpack botany with Nature Vancouver. This brief trip into the backcountry of Garibaldi Provincial Park was designed as a “good early season trip to get your equipment in order and get into backpacking shape.” One of the co-organizers, Christine Thuring, is a board member with the Native Bee Society and a Nature Vancouver member. Fellow board member, Jen Woodin, also came along. It was quite wet and cool, so we didn’t see any bees, but it was really fun to go backpacking with a small group of positive, nature-loving people! See the trip report here.

July 27 and August 24: NBSBC Native Bee Study Group. In July and August, we continued our online study of the different bees being observed as the summer progressed, and the variety of flowers they were using. As we move into the fall, we will be shifting our focus to a specific topic each month. The group will continue to be participatory, with the option of creating a slide in the common slide show to illustrate questions and observations by our participants. The group is open to everyone, and no questions are too basic! Please consider joining us on the 4th Wednesday of each month. RSVP to receive the zoom and slideshow links.

Poster for the 15th Annual Osprey Festival, hosted by the Wild Bird Trust of BC and the Coast Salish Native Plant Nursery.
Poster for the 15th Annual Osprey Festival at Maplewood Flats.

July 30: Plants & Pollinators walk at Osprey Festival, Maplewood Flats.

Lori and Christine were thrilled to offer a plant/ pollinator walk at the 15th Annual Osprey Festival. This lively, musical, family-friendly event at Maplewood Flats is hosted by the Wild Bird Trust of BC and Coast Salish Native Plant Nursery. It was a very hot day, so the walk went through the cool shaded forest.

Each of the 20 participants was equipped with a small net and observation jar, as well as info sheets.

A diversity of bees came out for our Plants & Pollinators walk, and many excellent conversations were had. Photo: Christine Thuring
A diversity of bees came out for our Plants & Pollinators walk, and many excellent conversations were had. Photo: Christine Thuring

Aug 21: Bee Safari in Riley Park Community Garden. The fabulous persona of Madame Beespeaker (aka Lori Weidenhammer) served as Bee Safari guide for this free family event at Riley Park community garden, in East Vancouver. Participants learned about native bees, and played Bee BINGO. Many also learned how to take photos of bees and add them to iNaturalist, thus becoming citizen scientists and helping the Native Bee Society of BC on this research project.

Sept 8: Garden Talk for the Grandview Garden Club. Growing herbs for humans and bees. Many edible and medicinal plants are a boon for both humans and bees. In this talk, Lori Weidenhammer described how anyone can create an “herbalicious” garden that fills your pantry while feeding pollinators. She focussed on some edible annuals that are easy to grow, as well as some perennial “keystone” herbs which are an essential part of the infrastructure of a healthy pollinator garden.

Sept 26: NBSBC Board Member Jennifer Lipka's research featured in the National Observer. The eighth article in an eight-part series on Farming for the Future in the National Observer, titled The Fate of your Food Rests on Canada's Native Bees, focuses on Jennifer Lipka's research at the UBC farm on the importance of protecting bee diversity in farming for long-term stable pollination. Read more on Jennifer's research in our June 2002 issue of the Quarterly Buzz, and sign up to attend our AGM on November 28 to hear a talk from this illustrious researcher in person (via Zoom).


Upcoming Events

Native Bee Society of BC Annual General Meeting

November 28, 2022 7:00-8:45pm, on Zoom

Save the date for our 2022 AGM!

Join us to vote on our incoming 2023 board of directors, reflect on the past year as a society and listen to our feature talks from current board members:

  • NBSBC's Native Bee Study Group: reflections and highlights from around BC with Bonnie Zand

  • A bumble bee's grocery list: measuring floral resources in the landscape with Jennifer Lipka

Native Bee Study Group

This group is an opportunity for connecting and learning about native bees with others throughout the province. Our online study group meets on the fourth Wednesday each month at 7:00 pm via Zoom. We have a different theme each month, and use this as a jumping off point to share our own knowledge and learn from others. Experts and complete beginners welcome! We use a show and tell format, and anyone who is interested in participating can create a slide on the shared google slides deck to share with the group (link sent with registration). Photos can also be sent to with a subject line of "Native Bee Study Group."

Upcoming autumn study groups are scheduled for Wed, Oct 26 (Theme: Bee Behaviour) and Wed, Nov 23. Come join the community and share in the bee buzz. RSVP here.


Find us on:


Instagram: bcnativebees

Twitter: @BCNativeBees

Interested in getting involved with the society?

Contact us at:

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