Updated: Oct 13
Newsletter of the Native Bee Society of British Columbia Oct 9, 2023
Volume 4 | Issue 2
Editors-in-chief: C. Thuring & M. Marriott
Contributors: Paula Cruise, Christine Thuring, Kath Quayle, Jovanka Djordjevich, Ruth O'Connell, Bonnie Zand, Lori Weidenhammer, Sky Jarvis, Jade Lee
Cover image: Megachile Male on Jacobaea vulgaris
(Cowichan Valley, Late August)
photo by Jade Lee
Buzz Straight to Article:
NBSBC Annual General Meeting
Monday, November 20, 2023, 7pm, Zoom
Attend our AGM to learn what we have been up to and what's to come!
The Native Bee Society of BC is holding its 5th AGM on Monday Nov. 20th via Zoom, starting at 7pm. The details are still being developed, but it will undoubtedly be a memorable evening that includes a brilliant bee talk, engaging conversations, and important NBSBC business, including board elections. Register today!
In order to vote at the AGM, you must be a member of the NBSBC. Memberships can be purchased or renewed here. Any memberships purchased now will provide benefits from now until the end of December, 2024. If you are not sure what your current membership status is, please shoot us an email at BCnativebees@gmail.com!
Want to get more involved with the NBSBC this year?
Since our founding in 2019, we have connected with thousands of bee enthusiasts of all ages across the province through education and outreach events: in-person at parks and wildlife areas, as invited speakers for nature/ garden club meetings and AGMs, sharing knowledge over Zoom, or via radio interviews and news articles.
As we continue to grow our membership and programming, we are looking to fill two Member-at-Large Positions on the Board. In particular, we are looking for two passionate individuals with the following skills:
Social Media: Do you enjoy engaging public interest using social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook? Do you get inspired to tell stories by stunning macro photography? Might you enjoy extracting fascinating content from the knowledgeable beeple of the NBSBC and translating it into digestible posts? If yes to any of these, please apply to join the 2024 board and mention this in your application.
Fundraising Diversification. Do you enjoy bringing in funding to support good causes? Would you like to support the mission and vision of the NBSBC by helping lead on grants, as well as Charitable Status, Endowments, and Legacy Giving? If yes to any of these, please apply to join the 2024 board and mention this in your application.
The NBSBC values diversity, collaboration and inclusivity; we encourage applications from marginalized and under-represented groups. All board members agree to 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.
To apply, please send your nomination package to email@example.com. Nomination packages should mention the position being applied for, a biography, photo, and a description of how you want to contribute to the society. Please review our website, too, starting here: https://www.bcnativebees.org/election
Nomination packages must be received no later than November 6, 2023; we strongly encourage interested parties to submit earlier. If you have questions about the process, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Announcement: Membership with BC Nature
On May 4, 2023, Native Bee Society of BC became a member of BC Nature.
Legally known as the Federation of British Columbia Naturalists, BC Nature is an affiliation of over 50 local nature clubs working across the province under the common mission of “Know Nature and Keep it Worth Knowing.” BC Nature strives to protect biodiversity, species at risk, and natural ecosystems, whilst educating naturalists, the public, and decision-makers about BC’s natural history. Member clubs lead and contribute to many conservation and stewardship projects and offer numerous community education and outreach events.
The Native Bee Society of BC believes that working in partnership with like-minded nature conservation organizations makes us stronger in our mission to envision a future in which BC’s native bees are appreciated, thriving, and protected. We believe we can learn from and lend to science-based inquiry that will directly support bee habitat and forage ecosystems.
On a practical level, membership with BC Nature offers several benefits to NBSBC, including:
access to grants, scholarships, and donations;
letters of support for grants and petitions;
the availability of experts and speakers from other clubs to present at NBSBC meetings;
support with insurance and IT.
What does membership with BC Nature mean for Native Bee Society members?
With this membership, all NBSBC members are now part of a growing community of over 6,000 individuals who are also passionate about nature conservation and education.
NBSBC members are also welcome to participate in all BC Nature activities, like Spring and Fall General meetings, conferences, camps, interpretive walks and talks from BC Nature and its members. In addition, students will have access to the Rene Savenye Scholarship (undergrad) and Dr. Bert Brink Scholarship (post-grad) awards.
NBSBC members will receive monthly enews from BC Nature as well as the quarterly BC Nature magazine either electronically (free) or via mail ($5 additional charge to membership annually for mailed paper copy). Members can unsubscribe or modify their subscription to these communications at any time. If you have any questions or concerns, please email NBSBC co-chairs at email@example.com.
For more information on the work of BC Nature, check out their website.
Check into the BC Nature socials to learn more about the interesting work being done:
Bombus vosnesenskii (yellow-faced bumble bee): Range, activity, and floral associations
by Kath Quayle
We're pleased to share this insightful and observational piece by one of our BC Master Melittologists, Kath Quayle. Her article is a tribute to the personal initiative and outreach encouraged of MM students, and an example of the amazing things iNaturalist allows us to do. Please get in touch if you have research to share (including special reports, paper reviews, etc).
With its distinctive bright yellow face, and indiscriminate taste for nectar and pollen sources, you will almost certainly have seen this black bumble buzzing around all sorts of different flowers in the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, and the Gulf Islands. In recent years, Bombus vosnesenskii (B. vos) has become one of the most common bumblebees in the region.
This has not always been the case though! Not that long ago, B. vos was a rarity in British Columbia. It first appears in the records in the 1950s when a few specimens were found in the BC interior. There was talk of assigning the yellow-faced bumble bee with threatened or endangered status. By 2000, however, this species had expanded through the Okanagan and Similkameen valleys, and had become firmly established in the Pacific Maritime, particularly in the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, and the Gulf Islands (Fraser et al, 2012).
Bombus vosnesenskii is a black bumblebee with a bright yellow face, a yellow stripe on the thorax, and a yellow band on the T4 segment of the abdomen. Photos: Kath Quayle
To examine recent trends in B. vos’ range, we went to the iNaturalist (iNAt) website (www.inaturalist.org). iNat is an online social network of people sharing biodiversity information that began as a research project in 2008. By 2014 over a million observations had been made and the number of observations has approximately doubled each year since. As of January 2023, iNat had 2.3 million users and around 160 million observations of plants, animals, and other organisms from around the world with well over 100 million verified results.
“Bee Tracker”, an iNat project curated by the Native Bee Society of BC, was created in 2021 and currently reports 37,669 observations, of 165 species, made by 3,661 observers, supported by 847 identifiers.
For a global overview, we downloaded all research grade records for B. vos from iNAt from Jan 1, 2014, to Sep 15, 2023 and reviewed the data. It turns out this bumble has only been observed in North America, where it has been spotted as far North as Lillooet, BC and as far South as El Maneadero Parte Baja, in Baja California, Mexico. Like many of us, it seems to like the West Coast!
Legend: = observation; 13,398 research grade observations Jan 1, 2014, to Sep 15, 2023
Screenshot. Accessed Sept 16, 2023. Available at https://inaturalist.ca/observations?place_id=any&subview=map&taxon_id=57689
B. vos in Canada
Within Canada, it appears that BC is the only province where B. vos has been observed to date, with the Fraser Valley generally being as far east as they go. Given the historical record, it’s interesting to note an absence of observations in the Okanagan or Similkameen valleys. When we zoom in, we find this species present in both urban and non-urban areas; around half the iNat observations occur in Greater Vancouver, Victoria, and Nanaimo. This is consistent with B. vos being able to forage effectively in mixed landscapes.
Legend: = observation; 2181 research grade observations Jan 1, 2014, to Sep 15, 2023
Caption: Screenshot. Accessed Sept 16, 2023. Available at https://inaturalist.ca/observations?place_id=7085&subview=map&taxon_id=57689
When parsing the iNat data by year, we can see in the video how B. vos’ range moved steadily north between 2014 and 2023, and how it has become firmly established in the Pacific Maritime region.
Generated with data from iNaturalist. Accessed Sept 16, 2023. Available at https://inaturalist.ca/observations?place_id=any&subview=map&taxon_id=57689
B. vos emergence and activity
The pooled iNat data from 2014 to 2023 are consistent with early emergence of B. vos with multiple sightings beginning in February that grow steadily through the spring. These bumbles are highly active through July and August when their numbers peak and they are still active into mid October.
B. vosnesenskii pooled monthly observations 2014 −2023. Data source https://inaturalist.ca/observations?place_id=any&subview=table&taxon_id=57689
B. vos plant associations
Two hundred and forty iNat records from BC (Jan 1, 2014, to Sep 15, 2023) included plant associations for B. vos. The extensive plant list is consistent with our understanding that this bumble is a generalist forager.
Table: Bombus vosnesenskii plant associations
iNaturalist data has given us a peek at the establishment and habits of B. vosnesenskii in BC in recent years. Of course, there are limitations with using these data, which may bias the results. Although we selected for research grade observations, there could be misidentifications of the bees themselves, and/or the plants they were feeding on. As well, there is no way to validate the accuracy of location information, although this is often obtained through the GPS system of a cell phone. On occasion, there could also be multiple records submitted of the same bee, and the number of people adding observations is increasing year upon year, so the annual number of observations is a moving target. Nevertheless, it’s interesting to see what crowd sourced data reveals!
Kath Quayle is an amateur ecologist and a current Master Melittologist student. She has undertaken a pollinator monitoring project on Galiano Island to identify and track bees and other pollinators. More details of this project can be found at www.galiwatch.ca. Kath joined NBSBC to better appreciate the wild bee fauna of BC.
Fraser DF, Copley CR, Elle E, Cannings RA. Changes in the Status and Distribution of the Yellow-faced Bumble Bee. Journal of the Entomological Society of British Columbia. 2012;109:31-7.
iNaturalist. (n.d.). Map of world research grade observations of B. vosnesenskii from Jan1, 2014, to 15 Sept 2023. Available from: https://inaturalist.ca/observations?place_id=any&subview=map&taxon_id=57689 Accessed Sept 16th, 2023.
iNaturalist. (n.d.). Map of British Columbia research grade observations of B. vosnesenskii. Jan 1, 2014, to Sep 15, 2023. Available from: https://inaturalist.ca/observations?place_id=7085&subview=map&taxon_id=57689 Accessed Sept 16th, 2023.
Native Bees' Needs: Pruning for Pollinators
by Jovanka Djordjevich
When Jovanka approached us with this article based on her experiences discovering cavity-nesting bees while pruning, we felt it was perfect for Native Bees' Needs. Her delightful discoveries may well extend to other pruning contexts, beyond and including vineyards. Please get in touch if you have stories or questions to share!
January 29th, 2018, was just another day of pruning for Jovanka Djordjevich. Jovanka is a member of the Djordjevich family vineyard on Crawford Road in Kelowna, BC, where they have been pruning grape vines since 1972. She has been learning the art of pruning for the last decade, as she prepares to one day take over management of a little more of the property. On that cold day in January, she made a cut, one that wasn’t quite clean, causing the piece of cane to split apart and as it dropped to the ground, she caught a glimpse of something different, yet familiar.
As an organizer of environmental talks to educate her Prince George, BC, community, she had learned about native bees and pollinators. From these talks, she had seen what the tunnel nesting bees and their nests looked like. As that little stub fell to the ground, she caught sight of partitions in the cane, so she brought that stub into the house for more observation. The stub was definitely filled with nest cells, but who had prepared them?
“It was a pretty exciting find for me. I had not thought about the grape canes as habitat”, she said. Along with the excitement though, was guilt—how many had she damaged or destroyed in the last years? How many had the family destroyed in the last half century?!
She set about finding out who was utilizing the canes. She posted on social media and e-mailed the friend who had done the Prince George talks, Lynn Westcott. Lynn introduced Jovanka to Lincoln Best, a native bee taxonomist. From an e-mailed photo, Lincoln identified an adult in one of the samples as a small carpenter bee, a Ceratina sp. Jovanka also invited local, provincial entomologist, Susanna Acheampong, to the farm to collect samples for identification.
So with this observation, Jovanka immediately changed the way she pruned and managed her section of their certified organic Sovereign Coronation (table grape) vineyard to include:
1. Not cleaning all of the dead stubs from the head of the vine. These stubs, although some were short, were possible habitat for any nesting and/or overwintering insects.
2. Checking the end of every cane for any observable use. If it is an open cane from the last growing season, it has been used, and may contain larvae or over-wintering adults. If there is a visible plug at the end it means it is definitely in use.
Open tunnels, evidence of use in grape canes and in short stubs left on vine head.
3. Cutting the portions of used canes off (plant side of the last node) and hanging them on posts. She has found that live canes are not utilized past the node, perhaps the node is too difficult to tunnel through. The stub on the node also provides a junction for hanging. She notes that if the cane is dead past the node, there may be use of the cane past that node because it is easier to tunnel through.
4. Hanging the used canes, because at this point, she is not sure whether dropping them into the snow would cause moisture damage to larvae or over-wintering adults.
5. Pruning canes for this year’s crop, leaving as much length after the last node as possible. Longer sections will offer more nesting space.
Used canes hung on posts.
6. Timing of shredding of the canes needs to be scheduled after larvae emerge. The question is: when is emergence or when is less damage possible?
7. Avoiding the use of brulées. Although not used at their farm, brulées (burn barrel on wheels that the prunings are dropped into) are not a good thing for over-wintering insects. The inhabited cane sections could be cut and hung or if it is found that moisture from the snow is not a concern, dropped rather than burned in the brulée.
While pruning may be a somewhat long, lonely chore, Jovanka’s finds have made it more of an investigation.
“It takes a bit longer to check each vine, but now I am pruning for the insects as well as the harvest. It has added another aspect to my passion of the vineyard and the belief that we can help other species as we farm. It is part of a land ethic, of being a responsible land steward,” she says.
Now, most viticulturists will say “we don’t need pollinators, grapes are self-pollinating”. True, but most plants require pollinators to make seed, and we depend on food and plants to sustain us. So, with a little care and time, and no pesticides, vineyards can become excellent habitat for beneficial insects. This helps orchardists and vegetable producing neighbours who do depend on pollinators and beneficial insects.
Jovanka was delighted by yet a few more interesting observations. Some of the shorter, dead stubs that she purposefully left last year have light yellow plugs in them. So, something that she had not noticed last year was using the vines. Also, the hung canes from last year, had new tunnels in parts of them. To help identify some of the pollinators she contacted Lincoln Best and invited him to the farm to help determine the species that were in the vines, as well as to consult about other ways she could manage the vineyard to provide food, habitat and shelter.
On a short visit to the Kelowna vineyard in early February 2019, Lincoln checked samples that had been gathered in the vineyard. From these samples, he found many types of bees and wasps.
January 2019 Specimens. D & M Djordjevich Vineyards Kelowna, B.C.
Image 1: Lincoln examining aphid wasp nest. Image 2: Hylaeus nest cell and larva. Image 3: Aphid wasp.
Image 4: Ceratina sp. Small carpenter bee. Image 5: Chrysididae, Cuckoo wasp.
It is important for vineyard managers to consider how their operations can benefit pollinators and beneficial insects. A lot of work is being done to improve the vineyard floor for pollinators, but now more study needs to be done in the canopy. Organically managed vineyards are nesting sites and refuge for many insects, including native bees, wasps, lacewings, and spiders and other species and are therefore potentially very important for balancing negative insect populations.
It also important for orchardists and other farmers, who depend on pollinators and diverse insect populations, to understand the importance of neighbouring habitat, be it natural strips of grassland, forest, hedgerows or organic vineyards. Integrating ecologically-based pest management to reduce (or preferably eliminate) dependency on pesticides will help to protect the pollinators and beneficial insects that provide the priceless services of pollination and “pest” control. By preventing spray drift on these neighbouring lands, orchardists can also help to protect important nesting and feeding sites of these beneficial insects.
Jovanka Djordjevich is a member of the Djordjevich family vineyard on Crawford Road in Kelowna, BC, where they have been pruning grape vines since 1972. She has been learning the art of pruning for the last decade as she prepares to one day take over management of a little more of the property.
NBSBC contribution to the "One Home Calendar"
We are thrilled to announce our exciting collaboration with One Home 2024, aimed at raising awareness about endangered species in our region! One Home has joined forces with 12 wildlife organizations to select and showcase endangered species in a stunning calendar, exclusively available from October 1 to 15, 2023. All proceeds generated will be distributed among the 12 participating organizations to support our respective conservation efforts.
Our captivating contribution features the Western bumblebee, beautifully depicted by the talented artist Ilya Viryachev. To learn more about the mission and to order the calendar starting October 1, please visit the One Home website.
Wed. Oct. 25, 7pm. Native Bee Study Group (Zoom)
Join the Native Bee Study Group for our October meeting! Our online study group meets on the fourth Wednesday each month at 7:00 pm via Zoom, hosted by Bonnie Zand. The October meeting will focus on nesting and overwintering habitat. Bring your own observations to add to our communal slide deck, or share something with the group you have learned from iNaturalist, books, or elsewhere! This group is open to all levels of bee knowledge. We look forward to seeing you there. RSVP here.
Mon. Nov. 20, 7pm. Annual General Meeting, Native Bee Society of BC (Zoom)
Save the date and join us on Zoom for a look back at the NBSBC's activities over the past year, and a look forward to what's ahead at our 5th Annual General Meeting. See details and save your spot here.
Continue to watch our socials (@bcnativebees on Facebook and Instagram) for more upcoming events. If you would like to volunteer at any events, we would love to see you! Reach out by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
For this autumnal issue, we’re pleased to feature a comforting treat submitted by Sky Jarvis. These Cocoa Pumpkin Muffins embellish oats and pumpkin puree with chia, chocolate and pumpkin spice. Let us know if you try them!
Cocoa Pumpkin Muffins
1 chia egg (2tsp ground chia; 3tbsp water)
1c pumpkin puree
1/4c melted coconut oil
1/2c maple syrup
1tsp vanilla extract
1/2c coconut sugar
1 1/2c ground oats -> flour
1/2c coco powder
2tsp pumpkin pie spice
1tsp baking powder
1/2tsp baking soda
1/2tsp sea salt
2/3c choco chips
Preheat oven to 350 F;
Mix chia egg in a bowl and set aside;
Mix wet ingredients in a bowl (pumpkin puree, melted coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla extract);
Mix dry ingredients;
Combine dry ingredients into wet bowl, then add chia egg and whisk until smooth;
Fill muffin trays and bake 20 - 25 mins at 350.
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.” The deadline for our winter issue is November 20.
Quarter in Review
Summer is the busiest time of year for beeple, and summer 2023 was brimming with bee goodness. Below is a summary of some of what we got up to.
Talks, Workshops and Presentations
Outreach and education is an important part of our mandate, and the NBSBC was busy with in spring and summer of 2023. We gave invited presentations at a couple AGMs, notably BC Nature on May 7th and the Galiano Island Conservancy on June 10 (see the recording here). We also gave several talks and workshops to celebrate World Bee Day (May 21st) and had tables at local festivals like the Camas Festival in Victoria, Seedy Saturdays in Roberts Creek, The River Never Sleeps Festival at Fanny Bay, Kamloops Farmers Market, and much more.
June 15-20, 2023: The BC Native Bee Course, aka “Bee School”
In June 2023, the NBSBC hosted the 6th BC Bee Course in the Okanagan, one of Canada's hotspots for native bees. The course was created and delivered by founding director, Lincoln Best, and supported by fellow NBSBC directors, Bonnie Zand as co-instructor, and Marika Ai-Li as course coordinator.
The BC Bee Course brings together both experts and novices for a fascinating deep dive into native bee identification, field methods and ecology. Check out these blog posts written on the ground by participant, Christine Thuring:
Interested in joining the BC Bee School in June 2024? Members will hear about developments on next year's BC Bee Course through the various membership channels, and we'll also keep our website, newsletter and social channels updated.
NBSBC Native Bee Study Group
The Native Bee Study Group meets on the fourth Wednesday of the month over Zoom, and is hosted by Bonnie Zand. Open to experts and complete beginners, the show and tell format allows anyone to create and share slides on the google slide deck (link sent with registration).
To give a flavour of the summer sessions, we're pleased to share some sample slides below, which focused on group members’ observations of bees and their hosts.
Thanks to Jovanka Djordjevich, Lori Weidenhammer and Bonnie Zand for permission to share their study group slides.
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