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The Quarterly Buzz

Updated: Apr 7, 2023

Newsletter of the Native Bee Society of British Columbia April 2023

Volume 4 | Issue 1


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

Contributors: Sarah Johnson, Lincoln Best, Christine Thuring, Lori Weidenhammer, Marika Ai-Li, Elaine Sedgman, Helena Gadzik, Jade Lee, Paula Cruise

Spring Issue cover image: Andrena sp. on Bog Laurel (Kalmia) Photo: Sarah Johnson

Fly Straight to Article:


Research Corner

Founding director and former NBSBC president Sarah Johnson has published their first scientific article out of their PhD research at Simon Fraser University. Their research has taken them deep into the Chilcotin backcountry and on wild adventures into Tweedsmuir South Provincial Park and the Rainbow Range. These are amazing and wild places that very few people visit. After spending a few seasons surveying bumble bee communities in these remote mountain ecosystems, Sarah and colleagues have examined the influence of landscape variables, including the abundance and diversity of flowering plants, and forest fires, on these bumble bee communities.

--Lincoln Best

We are including here some additional images Sarah shared with us of the terrain and field work; below the photos you will find the abstract and link to the full article.

[Click on arrow to advance to the next image.]

Photo 1: Burn zone showing some of the encroaching unburned patch and diverse burn intensities. Photo: Harvey Thommasen

Photo 2: Field crew: Sarah Johnson with net, Jack Hall and Rowan Rampton looking for bees. Photo: Harvey Thommasen

Photo 3: Blue vane trap used for passive sampling (same large burn site as Photo 1, different vantage). Photo: Sarah Johnson

Positive impact of postfire environment on bumble bees not explained by habitat variables in a remote forested ecosystem

by Sarah Johnson, Hanna M. Jackson, Hutton Noth, Leithen K. M'Gonigle

First published: 24 January 2023:


Bumble bees are important pollinators in temperate forested regions where fire is a driving force for habitat change, and thus understanding how these insects respond to fire is critical. Previous work has shown bees are often positively affected by the postfire environment, with burned sites supporting greater bee abundance and diversity, and increased floral resources. The extent to which fire impacts variation in bumblebee site occupancy is not well-understood, especially in higher latitude regions with dense, primarily coniferous forests. Occupancy models are powerful tools for biodiversity analyses, as they separately estimate occupancy probability (likelihood that a species is present at a particular location) and detection probability (likelihood of observing a species when it is present). Using these models, we tested whether bumblebee site occupancy is higher in burned locations as a result of the increase in canopy openness, floral species richness, and floral abundance. We quantified the impact of fire, and associated habitat changes, on bumblebee species' occupancy in an area with high wildfire frequency in British Columbia, Canada. The burn status of a site was the only significant predictor for determining bumblebee occurrence (with burned sites having higher occupancy); floral resource availability and canopy openness only impacted detection probability (roughly, sample bias). These findings highlight the importance of controlling for the influence of habitat on species detection in pollinator studies and suggest that fire in this system changes the habitat for bumble bees in positive ways that extend beyond our measurements of differences in floral resources and canopy cover.


Sarah Johnson is the Founding President of the NBSBC, and a PhD student at Simon Fraser University studying bumble bee ecology and conservation in British Columbia. She has an MSc in Ecology from the University of Calgary and has worked in plant-pollinator research and native bee conservation across Canada for almost a decade, in academic, non-profit, and volunteer settings.


Native Bees Needs: Spring Edition

Supporting specialist bees: Introducing a new forage resource for BC

by Christine Thuring

BC has a nationally significant bee fauna. At nearly 600 species, BC harbours ⅔ of Canada’s known bee species. Most native bees are solitary and build their nests in the ground or in cavities. Each species has its own habitat, forage, and nesting preferences, therefore the best way to protect native bee populations is by protecting their habitat. Urban gardens can also help by reducing fragmentation, thereby supporting the evolution, adaptation and connectivity of native species.

The Native Bee Society of BC received funding from the Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC’s “Bee BC Program” to promote the planting of suitable forage for pollinators. We decided to focus on specialist bees that occur in two of BC’s most populated ecoregions, Coastal BC and the BC Interior. Specialist bees rely on specific plants to complete their life cycle, which makes them vulnerable to land use change. Generalist species, by contrast, are able to use many plants, and so will also benefit if specialists are cared for.

Thanks to the small team who worked hard (and had fun) crafting and curating the content (Bonnie Zand, Valerie Huff, Linc Best and Christine Thuring) of this colourful, double-sided forage resource. All are welcome to download, print and share them; find them at the respective link for ecoregion of interest: Pacific Maritime (Coastal BC) and Mountain Cordillera (Interior).

Why this forage resource?

Specialist bee populations are at risk when they are poorly understood. Lack of understanding of population distributions or specific floral relationships poses a risk to specialist bees because:

  • critical habitat may be lost;

  • forage plants may not be included in planting plans;

  • new/ invasive bee species may spread disease or compete for foraging and nesting sites.

Native bees and native plants evolved in mutual relationships with each other over the last 100 million years. While the peril of honeybee populations have captured public attention, native bees are in even greater danger because they are not explicitly cared for by human beings. “In the last decade pollinators, particularly bees, have come to the forefront of conservation importance due to their integral link to pollination, food supply and overall ecosystem health” (Sheffield and Heron, 2018, pp. 45). Loss of habitat is a threat to all species.

Wild bees need wild plants

Specialist bees rely on specific plants to supply the pollen needed to feed their offspring. Without their host plant, specialist bee populations can disappear. Landscapes that support specialist bees also benefit generalists (including honeybees), who have less restricted floral palates. The lists were developed with reference to Jarrod Fowler’s work on pollen specialist bees.


Christine is a founding member and current co-chair/ president of the Native Bee Society. She is a plant ecologist and Green Roof Professional, and a participant of the 2023 MeadowMakers Program. In 2023, she helped create forage resources for specialist bees in BC.


NBSBC Bee Tracker Update

The First Native BC Bees of Spring 2023

by Lori Weidenhammer

It’s so wonderful to see that bee foraging and nesting season is beginning in British Columbia!

The bumble bee queens are waking up in south coastal BC and Vancouver Island. I’m writing this on March 15th in Vancouver and I see it’s about to go up to 14 degrees Celsius in the next two days, so I’ll be looking for bumble bee queens to emerge from hibernation and start patrolling the ground, looking for a nesting sites. Please be sure to post your early bee sighting on the iNaturalist BC Bee Tracker project, no matter which part of the province you are in. We love to see those early emerging bees and please take note of which flowers you’re seeing them on if they appear to be gathering nectar and/or pollen. These early days of spring are so important to our spring bees and we need to know which plants are supporting them. You can add the plant association in “observation fields” on the right side of the observation page.

The earliest bee we’ve had recorded so far was a Bombus melanopygus queen on heather on Feb 17, in Saanich. Non-native heather that blooms at this time of the year does seem to be an important spring garden booster for our early bumble bees. I often see some of the earliest bumble bee sightings in the heather garden at VanDusen Gardens in Vancouver.

On March 8 our co-president Paula Cruise spotted a beautiful B. melanopygus queen on a windowsill on the Sunshine coast. Looks like she’s covered in some kind of golden pollen.

On March 9th there was an observation of B. melanopygus on purple crocus on the sunshine coast highway, Sechelt, BC. On the same day, one was spotted sunning herself on mulch in Langley. This makes sense as they often bury themselves in mulch an/or soil to hibernate over the winter.

Black-tailed Bumble Bee Photo credit: deciduousdaydream
Black-tailed Bumble Bee on Pieris japonica Photo from iNat bee tracker deciduousdaydream

On March 11, an observer got some beautiful photos of B. melanopygus on Pieris japonica. These cup-shaped flowers are often popular with the blue orchard mason bees as well.

On March 12 a beautiful female Andrena mining bee was observed at the University of Victoria. Looks like the observer is wearing gardening gloves, so I wonder if they gave her a little nudge and disturbed her underground overwintering spot when they were digging in the ground. Or maybe she was just in a nice warm spot and emerged early.

On March 14, a Bombus mixtus was observed sunning herself on the outside of a daffodil in Saanich. I always think it’s such a shame that so many acres are devoted to a flower that does nothing for bees, except offer them places to shelter and sleep. Sometimes they sleep inside the middle of the flower and other times, they perch on the outside. Same goes for the big tulips that are popular at this time of the year. I’d much rather see native spring flowers and shrubs such as red flowering currant, Oregon grape, pussywillow, and osoberry.

We are also starting to receive a few sightings of Bombus vosnesenskii emerging on Vancouver Island in March. These elegant black and yellow bumble bees are some of the most common we see on the southern BC coast.

I’m seeing the red flowering currant budding out here in Vancouver. Salmonberry, shortspur sea blush (Plectritus congesta) and camas will be coming soon!!! Oh, I’m so excited! I see there was a sighting of a Vancouver Island bumble bee on a satinflower (Olsynium douglasii) on April 2 in Victoria, from 2022, so that’s something to look forward to!

Friends, I would love you to join me Sunday, April 30 camas day in Uplands Park (watch this website for details). Hope to see you there!


Lori Weidenhammer is a performance-based interdisciplinary artist and educator. She is the author of a book called Victory Gardens for Bees: A DIY Guide to Saving the Bees published by Douglas and MacIntyre. Lori works with students of all ages on eating locally and gardening for pollinators. On occasion, she likes to dress up in silly costumes and talk to bees. She worked with Tyler Kelly and curator Lincoln Best to create and maintain the iNaturalist BC Bee Tracker Project. She is a recipient of the Entomological Society of Canada’s Norman Criddle award for her work as an amateur naturalist. This year Lori would like to focus on creating educational materials that can be used by the public in many situations to deepen their understanding of native bees and their habitat needs. She would like to find new ways to bring inclusive and accessible artistic creation into the process of connecting folks to BC native bees.


The BC Native Bee Course is back!

The Native Bee Society of BC is excited to offer two short courses this coming June, 2023. We have capacity for 30 individuals across two sessions with overlapping field days:

  • June 15 - June 18, 2023

  • June 17 - June 20, 2023

This course offers a deep dive into native bee identification, field methods and ecology. It takes place in BC’s Okanagan region, which hosts the highest diversity of native bees in Canada. For those new to searching for bees in this biodiversity hotspot, we guarantee you’ll encounter a great variety of species.

Labs take place at Okanagan College in Penticton (see map), with field days at Sawmill Lake in Oliver. The course syllabus is available here.

For details about application, course fees, instructors and more, visit

Applications are due by April 7, 2023. Apply Now!


Special Report: Houdini Flies in BC

Who they are, how they've spread, and what you can do

by Marika Ai-Li

Megachilidae, commonly referred to as hairy-belly bees and cavity-nesting bees, is the most diverse family of bees in BC. There are over 150 species in the province (Sheffield & Heron, 2018), including many of our most visually stunning native bee species who carry fascinating life history traits. Females can be seen flying with yellow, orange, white or even blue “bellies”, carrying pollen on dense scopa on the underside of their abdomens. Most species nest in found cavities including loose bark, insect holes, snail shells, pine cones, and human-constructed bee houses. Females of some species use enlarged mandibles to collect leaves, petals, mud, and plant hairs to partition, and sometimes “wallpaper” their nest cells (Wilson & Messenger-Carril, 2016). Cavity-nesting bees are vital pollinators in BC’s ecosystems. Some species, such as our native blue orchard mason bee (Osmia lignaria), are managed for commercial pollination services in orchards across North America and Europe.

The flies have arrived

Cavity-nesting bees are facing a new threat in the Pacific Northwest. The “Houdini fly” (Cacoxenus indagator), native to Europe, is a kleptoparasite of mason and leafcutter bees, whose larvae feed on pollen in the nests of Osmia cornuta, O. bicornis, O. uncinata, and Megachile rotundata in Europe, and more recently, O. lignaria in North America (Krunić et al., 2005; Müller et al., 2020; Strohm, 2011; Zajdel et al., 2016; Zadjel et al., 2014). The first specimen of C. indagator recorded in BC was submitted to the Spencer Entomological Collection in 2014 (K. Needham, personal communication March 22, 2023). Since then, C. indagator has spread and established along the west coast, with iNaturalist reports across coastal urban areas of southwestern BC, Washington and Oregon.

Photo of Cacoxenus indagator adult.
Cacoxenus indagator are in the fruit fly family (Drosophilidae). Adults are 3-3.5 mm long, with a light-grey thorax a black abdomen with horizontal banding and distinctive brown to dark-red eyes (2). Credit: Crown Bees.

Crown Bees in Woodinville, Washington rear and distribute nearly half a million O. lignaria cocoons annually. Owner Dave Hunter curiously observed a few cells infected by fly larvae amongst cocoons in 2018. In 2019, he 500 cells had been taken over, and in 2020, numbers grew close to 5% (25,000). This led Dave to confirm identification with experts in Switzerland and start to promote and implement best-known management protocols. Last year, even with control measures in place, approximately100,000 of their cells (20%) were lost to C. indigator (D. Hunter, personal communication, March 15, 2023).

Cacoxenus indagator larvae in infested Osmia lignaria cavities.
Cacoxenus indagator larvae in infested Osmia lignaria cavities. C. indagator larvae are sticky, yellowish-white grubs. There are often multiple (2-20) larvae in an infested cell, typically surrounded by distinctive orange-brown “spaghetti-like” frass (poop). Credit: Crown Bees

Pat Holmes, a NBSBC member, tends thousands of O. lignaria cocoons annually at her home on the North Shore and cottage on Hornby Island. She’s connected to a passionate community of mason bee enthusiasts across the North Shore who she supplies with cocoons. Pat has observed similar increases over the past few years, in her own home operations and across her network: “I gifted one friend 25 cocoons -half of them females- and normally would have expected 70 to 100 cocoons produced. She was left with three last fall. Another friend, who I’ve given 100 cocoons to for the past two years, lost all of her cocoons this season.” Pat and her connections carefully clean and manage their bee homes each year. Notably, she hasn’t found any flies in her Hornby Island operation, and is careful not to transfer cocoons between locations (P. Holmes, personal communication, March 16, 2023).

Pollen thievery

C. indagator females lay their eggs on the larval pollen balls left behind by female mason and leafcutter bees. The fly larvae hatch and feed on the pollen and reach their maximum size before winter. As temperatures warm in the spring, the larvae pupate and hatch out as adult flies within a month (Stanisavljević, 1996; Strohm 2011).

When only 2-3 fly larvae hatch in a cell, the bee larvae still have a chance of survival; but after sharing provisions with their invaders, they develop undernourished and undersized, producing a smaller cocoon (Julliard, 1948; Stanisavljević, 1996; Strohm 2011; Zajdel et al., 2016). A cell fully infested by 10-20 fly larvae will leave behind no pollen, starving the bee larvae (Krunić et al., 2005; Strohm 2011).

Sly flies

C. indigator uses a rather sneaky approach to enter bee nests. Females wait near the entrance of cavities, and when the female bee leaves to forage, the fly quickly enters, lays its eggs on the bee’s pollen ball, and departs to wait for the next opportunity (Julliard, 1947; Stanisavljević, 1996; Strohm 2011).

Sometimes, run-ins occur. When female O. cornuta were observed surprising flies in their nests, the (much smaller) fly fled. Female O. cornuta were also observed diving at C. indagator females waiting outside their nests, though it didn’t appear to reduce fly infestations (Krunić et al., 2005; Stanisavljević, 1996).

Where the fly gets its name

Harry Houdini mystified audiences in the early 1900s by “walking through” brick walls (Solomon, 2006). Houdini fly adults and larvae can perform similar acts. After hatching within a bee’s nest, adult flies will attempt to move towards the nest entrance by finding small cracks in the front-facing nest wall, inserting their “head blisters” and inflating them to enlarge the cracks until the wall breaks apart (Strohm, 2011). C. indigator larvae also have specialized mouthparts that can break through nest walls to consume pollen in neighbouring cells and move towards the entrance. When inspecting a highly invested bee cavity, you’ll likely find a large congregation of up to 20-40 larvae near the nest's front (Julliard, 1948; Krunić et al., 2005; Strohm 2011).

Why should we care?

In the wild, cavity-nesting bee nests are sparsely distributed across the landscape. Bee houses managed in our backyards and communities typically consist of up to a hundred or more “tunnels”, such as bundled hollow stems or holes drilled in wood blocks. This makes an ideal arrangement for bee parasites, who are attracted to prey congregations. Without careful management, human-constructed bee homes can become source populations of bee parasites (MacIvor & Packer, 2015), including Houdini flies, creating potential threats to both managed and wild native bee populations.

What can we do?

Here are five proactive measures that can help to control the spread of Houdini flies in at-home operations:

  1. Harvest and clean cocoons to remove larvae. We encourage all cavity-nesting bee caretakers to remove, inspect and clean cocoons in their bee homes, removing all fly larvae. Depending on the size of your operation, the process can take anywhere from 1 to 5+ hours per year. This small commitment helps to ensure your homes aren't having negative impacts on wild populations or other managed homes in your community, keeps local bee parasite populations in check, and maximizes survival of bees within your home. Wondering where to start? Pat Homes shared some excellent guidance on managing cavity nesting bee houses in Volume 2, Issue 3 of the Quarterly Buzz. Crown Bees also provide many great resources on their website, including guides for harvesting mason and leafcutter bee cocoons, and identification guides for mason and leafcutter bee parasites and diseases. NBSBC will also be featuring an in-depth annual cavity-nesting bee stewardship guide in our 2023 summer issue of the Quarterly Buzz!

  2. Avoid poorly-constructed bee homes. Many big-box stores sell bee homes that aren’t designed with native bees' needs in mind. They may include bamboo stems or drilled holes that can’t be opened, or tunnels that are too short. O. lignaria prefer to nest in tunnels that are at least 14 cm deep and 0.8 cm wide (Issacs, 2017). Females lay males towards the front of each cavity as a protective measure, so if cavities are too short, you won’t get any female cocoons to support the next generation. Instead of purchasing poorly-designed homes, seek them out from a reliable local company. Some BC-based companies include: Mason Bee Central, The Mason Bee Company and BeeDiverse. Crown Bees also ship to Canada!

  3. Place your homes in a sunny location. Home placement may have an effect on the prevalence of Houdini flies. Pat Holmes has observed that her homes placed in sunny locations had more healthy cocoons and lower C. indagator infestations than those in shadier locations. She reports that her bees emerge earlier in morning than flies, who seem to prefer warmer temperatures (P. Holmes, personal communication, March 16, 2023).

  4. Squish or vacuum adult flies during their active season. Active control is an effective way to reduce C. indigator populations in small-scale operations. Ideally, you want to practice this daily (or as often as possible), as soon as you see the first fly sitting outside your nest - typically 2-3 weeks following mason bee emergence (Krunić et al., 2005). Adult flies can be squashed by hand or a fly swatter. Aspirators are also very effective tools to suction flies (Stanisavljević, 1996, as cited in Krunić et al., 2005).

  5. Control release. For those unable to harvest cocoons (due to time, inability to open store-bought homes, or scale of operations), the minimum recommended action is to place your nesting materials in a fine mesh bag at the start of bee season (late February to mid-March). As they emerge, adult bees can be released from the bag, and flies can be squished or drowned (D. Hunter, personal communication, March 15, 2023). Keep in mind that this method isn’t as effective for chalcid wasps, which can develop multiple generations annually.

Crown Bees is also working on a promising new patent with the US Department of Agriculture in Washington. They're developing a naturally-derived chemical product that will either attract or repel C. indicator, and expect it to be ready for market within the next year or two (D. Hunter, personal communication, March 15, 2023).

Reporting Houdini Flies in BC

Finally, we highly encourage you to photograph and submit sightings to iNaturalist. Both C. indagator adults observed outside of homes and larvae found during harvesting can provide meaningful records. To date there are only 6 records in BC, with 5 in the Lower Mainland and 1 on Vancouver Island, likely a poor reflection of their true abundance. New records will help us determine the current distribution of Houdini fly across the province and monitor its spread into new regions.

Contributor Bios

Marika Ai-Li is a Member-at-Large and former Vice President of the NBSBC. Marika is wild about native bees! She's led a variety of pollinator education, stewardship and native bee community science programs on Coast Salish territories over the past decade. She works as the Manager of Sites & Stewardship for the Environmental Youth Alliance where she oversees EYA's habitat restoration projects, native plant nursery and land-based education programs for equity-deserving youth. She has a BSc in Applied Biology, Plant & Soil Sciences from UBC and is completing the Restoration of Natural Systems Diploma at UVic.

Dave Hunter began his new career back in 2008 when he took a backyard hobby raising mason bees and both formed the professional organization Orchard Bee Association for researchers and practitioners as well as create his company Crown Bees in his garage. Through the years Crown Bees has expanded beyond the garage and supports both wholesale and online retail customers. Collaboration is key to Crown Bees’ mission so that common understanding and best practices are shared with all.

Pat Holmes has had a life-long love affair with bees and started getting serious about mason bees in the last 10 years. A retired nurse, married mother of 4 children and 2 grandchildren, she lives in Lynn Valley. She is a keen gardener and, in recent years, she has become more interested in plants that suit native bees than in showy flowers and shrubs. Her friend, Taren, first introduced her to mason bees over 15 years ago because she was making mason bee houses and selling them at craft fairs and trade shows. She was definitely ahead of her time!


Issacs, R. (2017). Building and managing bee hotels for wild bees. Michigan State University Extension. Retrieved March 22, 2023 from

Juilliard, C. (1948). The behaviour of the larvae of Cacoxenus indagator Loew. in the nests of Osmia rufa. Communications of the Swiss Entomological Society. 21: 547-554.

Krunić, M., Stanisavljević, L., Pinzauti, M., and Felicioli, A. (2005). The accompanying fauna of Osmia cornuta and Osmia rufa and effective measures of protection. Bulletin of Insectology. 58(2), 141-152.

MacIvor, J. S., and Packer, L. (2015). ‘Bee hotels’ as tools for native pollinator conservation: a premature verdict?. PLOS One. 10(3), e0122126.

Müller, A., Prosi, R., Taylor, S., Richter, H., Herrmann, M., and Weibel, U. (2020). Unique nesting biology of Osmia (Melanosmia) uncinata, a Palaearctic Osmiine bee specialized on thick-barked conifers (Hymenoptera, Megachilidae). Alpine Entomology. 4, 157-171.

Sheffield, C.S. and Heron, J.M. (2018). The bees of British Columbia (Hymenoptera: Apoidea, Apiformes). Journal of the Entomological Society of British Columbia. 115, 44-85.

Solomon, M. (2006). Houdini's Actuality Films: Mediated Magic on the Variety Stage. Nineteenth Century Theatre and Film, 33(2), 45-61.

Stanisavljević, L. (1996). The impact of accompanying fauna on the populations of newly domesticated solitary bees Osmia cornuta (Latr.) and O. rufa (L.) (Megachilidae, Hymenoptera). [Master Thesis, University of Belgrade].

Strohm, E. (2011). How can cleptoparasitic drosophilid flies emerge from the closed brood cells of the red Mason bee? Physiological Entomology. 36(1), 77-83.

Wilson, J., and Messinger-Carril, O. (2016). The Bees in Your Backyard: a Guide to North America's Bees. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Zajdel, B., Fliszkiewicz, M., Kucharska, K., and Gąbka, J. (2016). Influence of the presence of Cacoxenus indagator Loew. parasite larvae in brood chambers on the emergence rate and size of red mason bees. Veterinary Medicine: Science & Practice. 72(9), 567-570.

Zajdel, B., Kucharska, K., Kucharski, D., Fliszkiewicz, M., and Gąbka, J. (2014). Accompanying fauna of red mason bees in annual and perennial nesting sites. Veterinary Medicine: Science & Practice. 70(12), 746.


Community Outreach and Education

How to display bees without losing heads

by Elaine Sedgman

Oh, no! Here I was in a class of young children sharing the joy and fascination of native bees, and another head got knocked off one of the pinned specimens in my display box! And it was me that had damaged it, not one of the students! I thought: there must be a better way to introduce bees to children – something that both they and I could easily handle. This essay shares my explorations on this theme, with the hope that others may benefit, especially those engaged in outreach and education.

My first result in searching for an answer was Sam Droege’s video explaining a method of floating insects in vials or cuvettes of liquid. Check out his YouTube video “Preserving with Hand Sanitizer”:

In 2020, along with other members of the Thompson Shuswap Master Gardeners (TSMG), I tried Sam’s method using plastic cuvettes. Unfortunately, after a few months the cuvettes cracked, sanitizer leaked and specimens dried up. (Since then, Sam has added a caveat on his video post stating that plastic/acrylic cuvettes might crack.) In distress, I turned to Lincoln Best, who works for the Oregon State University Extension Service and works on the Master Melittologist program. Linc recommended using glass vials with the Taperseal caps as they do not leak, crack or break. This was the bulletproof solution I had sought and which I can’t recommend enough.


  • Vials: 4 Dram 26.5 x 57 mm 24-400 Thread (144 tray);

  • Caps: 24-400 Black Phenolic Taperseal (144);

  • Hand sanitizer that has a thick, viscous texture that will allow the insect to float (try to find a bottle without bubbles, it makes the job a lot easier);

  • Disposable transfer pipette or syringe for removing inevitable air bubbles;

  • Wire with hook shaped on the end for arranging the insect in the vial, or reverse tweezers;

  • Insects that have been soaked in rubbing alcohol for a few days so that air is replaced in the specimen. It is important to replace insect body fluids and air with alcohol, otherwise, the insect continues to “burp” them up, discolouring the hand sanitizer. Do not use fresh insects.

Tools: Bees soaked in rubbing alcohol, vial and cap, hook for rearranging the bee, pipette, and hand sanitizer
Tools: Bees soaked in rubbing alcohol, vial and cap, hook for rearranging the bee, pipette, and hand sanitizer. Image: Elaine Sedgman


  • Pour the hand sanitizer into the vial, half full. Take a pre-soaked specimen and place it in the vial. Fill the vial to the top. Cap it. Let it sit for a week so that all the bubbles are released from the insect.

  • After a week has passed by, use the pipette or syringe to suck out the bubbles. (Watch Sam’s video)

  • Use the wire hook to rearrange the insect- spread its wings, arrange legs etc.

  • Overfill the vial with hand sanitizer and cap it tightly. Wipe off excess hand sanitizer. You do not need to seal these caps with super glue as described in Sam’s video, as they don’t leak.

How to order vials and caps

Order vials and caps through Acme Vial & Glass, Inc., Paso Robles, CA. Rather than a shipping company, I suggest asking the company to mail the vials by post as this seems to avoid custom brokers fees. In 2020, TSMG purchased 288 vials and caps, and it came to $0.93 per (vial/ cap) including shipping.

I’ve found that these vials are a hit at outreach events and in classrooms. And the best part: everybody keeps their heads on, both the bees and the humans.


Elaine Sedgman is an educator, artist, Master Gardener and the author/illustrator of A Bee Named BOB (2019) and Andrena a Mining Bee (2022). She completed the requirements for Apprentice Level Certification of the Oregon Bee Atlas Master Melittologist Program (2021) and is the Citizen Science Coordinator for Thompson Shuswap Master Gardeners, organizing workshops and pollinator counts with adults and children. The first thing she does on a summer morning is to brew a cup of tea and go searching for what’s buzzing in her garden.


Bee Inspired

Paintings by NBSBC member Helena Gazdik

We are thrilled to be able to share with you the stunning bee-inspired artwork of NBSBC member, Helena Gazdik.

Male Agapostemon virescens on Cytisus, acrylic, 36cm x 28cm on gallery wrapped canvas.

Female Andrena colletina on Taraxacum, acrylic, 25cm x 20cm on wooden panel

Note: If you also create bee-inspired artwork (or poetry other forms of creative expression) that you would be willing to share with this community, please let us know! Email us at


Helena Gazdik lives in Campbell River, BC, and is a new 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.


Bee Book Club

The Book of Bees: Inside the Hives and Lives of Honeybees, Bumblebees, Cuckoo Bees, and Other Busy Buzzers, by Lela Nargi

Review by Jade Lee

The Book of Bees by Lela Nargi is excellent. Unlike most bee books for kids, it doesn't focus solely on honeybees but exemplifies the diversity and importance of solitary bees. The book is designed for very engaging reading with children, packed with fun tidbits, sidebars, interesting facts and simple ID tips. It also grants in-depth perspective into the life-cycles, unique needs and habits of bees. It's well put together and beautiful to thumb through, with stunning and detailed photographs. The hardcover is a bit weighty, which I personally quite enjoy in a science book. All in all, I can't recommend this book enough for any pollinator enthusiast or layperson from age 6 and up.


Jade Lee is a photographer and amateur entomologist/Hymenoptera enthusiast living on Vancouver Island. They joined the NBSBC a little over a year ago to get more acquainted with the bee community in their area. They are currently training as a Master Melittologist with the aim of someday working in conservation or research.


Upcoming Events

by Paula Cruise

Spring is here, hurrah! As well as bee-spotting in the wild, our hard-working beeple are filling their calendars with fun outreach opportunities. Below is a sample of our current event listings, though others may arise so keep an eye on our website and social media channels. Volunteering is a great way to absorb knowledge, and if you’d like to volunteer at these or any other events, please send us an email ( with the subject “Event Volunteer”.

April 11: Beeyond Beelief: Backyard Bees

The Stanley Park Ecology Society (SPES) is hosting an online event with our very own Lori Weidenhammer, a.k.a. Madame Beespeaker. Sign up to learn about some of the most common native bee species you could spot in your backyard, local park or community garden. Find out about some cool behaviours you can look for like mating and nesting, and find out which spring flowers are best for supporting our local pollinators. Lori will also highlight spring observations from citizen scientists on The Native Bee Society of British Columbia BC Bee Tracker project on iNaturalist. Learn how you can also contribute to important research on the relationship of native plants to native bees.

April 13: MONOVO Nerd Night

Hosted by our friends at the Museum of North Vancouver, this 19+ event is part of MONOVO’s “Think and Drink” series and features Marika Ai-Li as she shares her vast knowledge of BC’s wild bees. Each talk includes a fun, interactive question and answer period in a relaxed, pub-style atmosphere to meet other nerds who yearn to learn more about the amazing discoveries being made every day.

April 26: Native Bee Study Group

Our online study group meets on the fourth Wednesday each month at 7:00 pm via Zoom, hosted by Bonnie Zand. 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 sessions are scheduled for Wed, April 26 (Theme: First Bees) and Wed, May 24. Come join the community and share in the bee buzz. RSVP here.

April 30: Camas Day

Lori Weidenhammer joins Friends of Uplands Park Society in Victoria to celebrate this special native plant. Uplands Park in Oak Bay is one of the best examples of the endangered Garry Oak Ecosystem and is home to over 20 rare plant species.

April 28-May 1: City Nature Challenge

The Native Bee Society of BC is excited to participate in this province-wide community science project. Stay tuned to our Facebook and Instagram accounts to see how you can contribute your wildlife viewings.

May 7: The River Never Sleeps Festival

Bonnie Zand will be sharing her native bee knowledge alongside Fanny Bay Salmonid Enhancement Society in celebration of the vibrant aquatic ecosystems in the Courtenay area of eastern Vancouver Island.

May 31-June 2: Pollinator Days at VanDusen Gardens

The Native Bee Society of BC will be at this sold-out Vancouver event that offers a field trip experience for students to learn about pollinators and the environments that support them.

Continue to watch our socials (@bcnativebees on Facebook and Instagram) for upcoming events. If you would like to volunteer at any events, we would love to see you! Reach out by emailing


Quarter in Review

by Paula Cruise

The past few months have been cold on the Coast but the rare dry, sunny days bring out our bees who have over-wintered as adults, including our bumble bee queens and our Andrena mining bees.

The weather doesn’t have to be dry or sunny for our members to emerge and bring their bee knowledge to events throughout the province, meeting folks at Seedy Saturdays in Kamloops (thank you Elaine Sedgman!), and in Coombs on Vancouver Island (thanks Bonnie Zand), and at the Straws of Life Seeds of March events at Sechelt (March 18) and Halfmoon Bay (March 25) on the Sunshine Coast (thanks, Paula Cruise).

Top row: Community Outreach table, learning bee anatomy at Halfmoon Bay Seeds of March event Photos: Paula Cruise

Bottom row: Community Outreach at the Denman Island Conservancy Biodiversity Workshop Photos: Helena Gadzik

On March 11, Helena Gadzik teamed up with the Denman Island Conservancy to celebrate biodiversity on this small Coastal community. We are sharing some of Helena’s words: "Children loved observing Bumblebees with a magnifying glass and with a microscope. Adults showed great interest in the lives and peculiarities of different bee genera."

At the TD Park People Spring Social on March 29, Lori Weidenhammer mingled with individuals and organizations passionate about connecting people to nature in public spaces, with Lori advocating for more native pollinator habitat in city parks.

On January 31, Lori also teamed up with our friends at the Stanley Park Ecological Society to learn about the hidden world of bees during a fascinating Zoom talk titled Beeyond Belief: Where Do Bees Go in Winter? Don't miss the next talk in this series coming up on April 11 (see Upcoming Events above for details).

The Native Bee Study Group, hosted by Bonnie Zand, continues to meet on the fourth Wednesday of the month. Discussions this quarter explored the fascinating world of cuckoo bees, sharing tips and tricks for photographing bees, shared experiences engaging with the public on bee biology and diversity. Elaine Sedgman's article in this issue on preparing bee vials for community engagement came out of what she shared in the Study Group! Bonnie Zand also hosts monthly Microscope Zoom sessions revealing the identities of mystery bees alongside inquisitive melittologists, together exploring the morphological characteristics of bee families.


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Instagram: bcnativebees

Twitter: @BCNativeBees

Interested in getting involved with the society?

Contact us at:

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