A queen bombus melanopygus bee, a species native to B.C, hunts for a good place to make a nest. (Submitted/Sarah Johnson, Native Bee Society of BC)

A queen bombus melanopygus bee, a species native to B.C, hunts for a good place to make a nest. (Submitted/Sarah Johnson, Native Bee Society of BC)

B.C.’s wild bees need messy gardens to survive

The year-long nesting period makes habitat a primary concern for wild bees

Gardeners might be itching to clean up dead leaves and stalks from the winter, but they could be holding wild bees who haven’t emerged yet.

“A big impact is to keep your garden messy. We always have this urge to tidy up but it’s really better to leave things messy,” said research scientist Martina Clausen with UBC’s BeeHIVE Research Cluster and board member with the Native Bee Society of B.C.

“The public usually thinks of honey bees when we talk about saving the bees, but honey bees aren’t the problem. They’re basically pets or even livestock,” she said. Honey bees are not native to Canada, they are bought and sold and are taken care of by a beekeeper year round.

Wild bees are different, and at least some of the 483 recorded species in B.C. are endangered.

Finding a safe place to lay eggs is a primary threat for wild bees. Eggs are laid in the spring, turn into larva throughout the summer, build a cocoon in the fall and emerge as an adult the next spring.

“For that entire year they need a nesting place not disturbed.”

READ ALSO: Bee supply threatened this year by wasps, COVID

It’s also important to leave nesting resources, and that means a messy garden. Wild bees often prefer hollow stalks to lay eggs in, others will nest in the ground.

After they lay eggs, bees will close the nest with leaves and resin. Clausen recommends leaving a bit of water too, because bees will use it to make mud to tuck in the nest.

Another important action to help wild bees is to plant wild, native flowers they can use for nectar and pollen.

East coast bee researcher Alana Pindar with the University of Guelph says the question she’s asked the most is when it’s safe to do a spring yard clean-up. Her unpopular answer: never.

“Humans have decided we need to clean and organize land. Truth is, biodiversity is messy, nature is messy, and your yard is part of nature.”

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:zoe.ducklow@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

gardening

 

A native-to-B.C. wild queen bee (bombus melanopygus for those in the know) feeds on a periwinkle flower. (Submitted/Sarah Johnson, Native Bee Society of BC)

A native-to-B.C. wild queen bee (bombus melanopygus for those in the know) feeds on a periwinkle flower. (Submitted/Sarah Johnson, Native Bee Society of BC)

Just Posted

Robert’s column
Robert Barron Column: Poachers in forest reserve should be treated harshly

‘Poachers need to be rounded up and prosecuted as soon as possible’

Can you dig it? Crofton In Bloom volunteers certainly can. From left: Trayci Lepp, Tony Lamley, Bonnie Lamley, Mary Patient and Jane Grueber. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Community pride grows from volunteer group’s beautification efforts

All ages contribute to Crofton In Bloom’s objectives

An object in motion stays in motion. An object at rest stays at rest. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)
Sarah Simpson Column: This mother is grinning and bearing it

News broke the other day that, after months in hibernation, Grouse Mountain’s… Continue reading

An online cooking lesson with Ian Blom, the Red Seal Chef from the Ainslie Restaurant, is one of the items on auction in a fundraiser for the Duncan Curling Club and other causes. (Submitted photo)
Online action being held to assist Duncan Curling Club and other causes

Auction, run by the Duncan Rotary Club, closes May 22

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Queen Elizabeth II and Clive Holland, deputy commonwealth president of the Royal Life Saving Society, top left, virtually present Dr. Steve Beerman, top right, with the King Edward VII Cup for his drowning-prevention work. Tanner Gorille and Sarah Downs were honoured with Russell Medals for their life-saving resuscitation. (Buckingham Palace photo)
Queen presents Vancouver Island doctor with award for global drowning prevention

Dr. Steve Beerman receives Royal Life Saving Society’s King Edward VII Cup at virtual ceremony

Former UFV Cascades wrestling coach Arjan Singh Bhullar is now the ONE heavyweight champion after defeating Brandon Vera via TKO in round two on Saturday in Singapore. (ONE Championship)
Former UFV wrestling coach wins MMA championship

Arjan Singh Bhullar captures ONE heavyweight title, first Indian origin fighter to achieve honour

Astra Zeneca vaccine waits for injection in a Feb. 3, 2021 file photo. A Langley man has become the second B.C. resident to suffer a blood clot following an injection. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
B.C. man required emergency surgery after AstraZeneca vaccination

Shaun Mulldoon suffered ‘massive blood clot’ after jab

Chilliwack’s Kile Brown, performing as drag queen Hailey Adler, dances and lip syncs in front of hundreds of people during the inaugural Chilliwack Pride Barbecue at the Neighbourhood Learning Centre on Aug. 24, 2019. Monday, May 17 is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of May 16 to 22

International Day Against Homophobia, Talk Like Yoda Day, Sea Monkey Day all coming up this week

Most Read