Become a volunteer for the bee census

Want to do something to help save the bees?

Want to do something to help save the bees?

There is an opportunity to help Friends of the Earth (FoE) with its second Great Canadian Bumble Bee Count by being a volunteer census taker.

Downloadable census cards like the one pictured here are available to help census takers identify different species of bees.

The group started the project in response to global concerns about declines in pollinator biodiversity.

The group is asking people to look for and take photos of bumble bees and then upload those photos with observations about the bees. Scientists will then use the information for tracking and studying the bee population.

The Great Canadian Bumble Bee Count is taking place now through Sept. 15.

Participants in last year’s event submitted 1,218 photos and observations for the census. This included 12 submissions for the critically-at risk yellow-banded bumble bee (Bombus terricola).

A FoE press release explained that “more than two-thirds of the food crops we depend on benefit from pollination by native bees, honey bees and other pollinators,” and that “bumble bees are particularly effective pollinators for certain crops and flowers – including blueberries and tomatoes.”

“We know from our recent poll that Canadians care deeply about saving the bees but they know very few of them by name,” said Beatrice Olivastri, CEO, Friends of the Earth Canada.

“We hope people will volunteer to go out with our Census Cards and take photos of the bumble bees wherever they are – cottages, national parks or their own garden. By sending Friends of the Earth their photos and observations, they’ll be helping us learn more about what needs to be done to protect bumble bees,” said Olivastri.

“Bees are up against big stresses like habitat loss, climate change, pesticides and diseases,” said John Bennett, Senior Policy Advisor, Friends of the Earth Canada. “Canada has over 40 species of bumble bees but many of them are in trouble. Photos and observations about bumble bees from the Great Canadian Bumble Bee Count could signal changes in how bumble bees are dealing with the same issues you and I face — from heat waves to fires and floods. This is critical information and we really need help from concerned citizens.”

FoE explained, “The Rusty-patched bumble bee, once abundant in southern Ontario is now almost extinct and officially designated as endangered. Six more bees have declined to such an extent that scientists have advised the federal Minister of Environment to take steps to protect them. There are over 850 confirmed species of wild native bees in Canada with little proper monitoring. Honey bees have dedicated beekeepers to take care of them but wild, native bees need more support.”

“We think it’s a priority that Canadians learn more about these bees,” says Olivastri. “We want Canadians to be just as familiar with Yellow-banded bumble bees and more of the 40 plus bumble bee species as they are with monarch butterflies.”

For more information or to print out a census card go to the Great Canadian Bumble Bee Count webpage: foecanada.org/en/issues/bumble-bee-count.

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