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

Brenda and Steve Smith with a photo of Derek Descoteau. It’s been five years since Derek was murdered in Chemainus. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Friends provide continuing comfort for family in wake of unresolved Chemainus murder

Case remains before the courts five years after Derek Descoteau’s abrupt stabbing death in Chemainus

Fast action by Chemainus Fire Department crews prevented a motorhome fire from inflicting more serious damage on adjacent homes. (File photo by Don Bodger)
Fast action by Chemainus crews limits the damage from motorhome fire

Adjacent homes under threat from intense blaze

The former St. Joseph’s School converted to the St. Joseph’s Art Studios in 2019. (File photo by Don Bodger)
Former Chemainus St. Joseph’s School site sold to addictions recovery group

Diocese stresses the importance of a community outreach option in its decision

North Cowichan Coun. Christopher Justice said he believes the community will not be served well with the resignation of Chris Crowther from the OCP advisory council. (File photo)
Member of North Cowichan’s OCP advisory committee quits

Chris Crowther said OCP process devisive

A prowling coyote proved no match for a stray black cat who chased it out of a Port Moody parking lot Friday, May 14. (Twitter/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Little but fierce: Cat spotted chasing off coyote by Port Moody police

The black cat is seen jumping out from under a parked car and running the wild animal out of a vacant lot

A game camera near the Klahoose reservation on Cortes Island caught this glimpse of a truck leaving the woodlot at around 2:30 on Sunday morning. Photo supplied by Klahoose First Nation
Indigenous cutblock vandalised on Cortes Island, anti-logging element suspected

Ribbons pulled down, gravel poured into gas tank at Klahoose First Nation site

Announced Tuesday, May 18 by Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth, the province added gyms, dance and fitness studios to its list of places where face coverings are mandatory (AP/Steven Senne)
Masks now required at all times inside B.C. gyms, including during workouts

The province added gyms, dance and fitness studios to its list of places where face coverings are mandatory Tuesday

Reinhard “Bud” Loewen of Abbotsford has now been charged with 21 counts of sexual assault related to his massage business. (Facebook photo)
Former Abbotsford masseur now faces 21 counts of sexual assault

Bud Loewen of Bud’s Massage Therapy initally faced three charges

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Over the years, police have worked with sketch artists to draw what the boys could have looked like at the times of their deaths. (Vancouver Police Department)
DNA breakthrough expected in cold case involving murdered Vancouver boys, 7 and 8

Forensic analysts are working to identify relatives of the children, whose bodies were found in Stanley Park in 1953

Livestock competitions have been part of the Pacific National Exhibiton for more than a century. (Maple Ridge News files)
B.C. provides $50 million to keep major tourist attractions going

Tour bus companies also eligible for latest COVID-19 aid

The new wing at the Victoria International Airport opened up on Thursday (File contributed/YYJ)
Pandemic takes ‘hundreds of millions’ out of Victoria Airport, Vancouver Island economy

Airport authority head says passenger volumes down as much as 98 per cent

The top photo is of a real carbine rifle, while the bottom photo is the airsoft rifle seized from a Kelowna man on May 15. (Contributed)
RCMP issue warning: ‘Imitation firearms need to be dealt with responsibly’

A man brandishing his airsoft rifle in public had his weapon seized by Mounties on Saturday

Most Read