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

Eric Schwenck was awarded the Train-to-Train Coach Goldie award by BC Alpine this year. He coached the Revelstoke Ski Club U14s last winter. (Katie Findlay photo)
Revelstoke Ski Club coach and volunteer recognized in the Goldie Awards

BC Alpine recognizes ski clubs, skiers and volunteers with awards every year

Moving the old jail from Third Street West to Carlson Street in May 1971. (Estelle Dickey photo; Revelstoke Museum and Archives photo 9171)
Glimpses of Revelstoke’s past for May 13

Local history as recorded by the newspaper of the day

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

Mario Bafaro awoke in the middle of the night on April 25 to his home on fire in the Big Eddy. (Liam Harrap - Revelstoke Review)
‘I didn’t know I had so many friends’: Revelstoke fire victim thanks community for support

Mario Bafaro lost his home and dogs in a house fire on April 25

Tim Miller is selling his 76-foot steel bridge from his property in Burton, B.C. The bridge originates from the railway in Revelstoke. (Contributed)
For sale: a 100-ton 19th century bridge from Revelstoke

Bridge is now in Burton, B.C. and advertised for $40,000

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10 million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

The first of the extended closures is wrapping up, with the Trans-Canada highway re-opening on weekends for travel. (Jack Stuemple photo)
Trans-Canada highway to open on weekends

The highway will be open startig on Friday for the long weekend.

Meghan Thompson and her daughter Kennedy Lanteigne were awarded bravery awards on Saturday for helping to save the life of a baby drowning off a Naramata beach last June. (Submitted)
Penticton mom and daughter awarded for saving baby from drowning

Off duty Penticton fire captain also awarded for saving the boy’s life last summer in Naramata

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Rescue crews search for a missing diver in Okanagan Lake at Hot Sands Beach by the William R. Bennett Bridge on Sunday, May 16. (Michael Rodriguez/Capital News)
Missing Okanagan Lake diver presumed drowned, recovery efforts continue

Boaters are asked to stay away from the area as crews continue the search

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10 million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

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

(Kamloops This Week)
Puppy’s home in question as BC Supreme Court considers canine clash

Justice Joel Groves granted an injunction prohibiting the sale or transfer of the dog

Kayak the humpback whale was found dead on a Haida Gwaii beach on Saturday, May 15, 2021. (Marine Education and Research Society)
Kayak the humpback whale found dead on Haida Gwaii beach

Whale was estimated to be only 18 years old

Most Read