The buzz on bees

Did you know that the week of June 18th to 24th this year was Pollinator Week? Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park was buzzing with activity – led by Wildlife Preservation Canada, an assortment of bumble bee citizen science training events were held on and off-site throughout the week. Over 50 participants were taught all about how to identify bumble bees and help collect data on the diverse pollinator populations at the park.

Weekday evening classes involved an introduction to native bee conservation and identification of the 29 species of bumble bees found in Alberta. Over the weekend, hands-on training included detailed instructions on how to safely catch bumble bees in a net, transfer them into clear plastic vials, and take photos of them so that submissions to BumbleBeeWatch.org can later be identified by regional experts like Sarah Johnson (lead pollinator biologist with Wildlife Preservation Canada). All newly trained citizen scientists then had the opportunity to practice their skills by catching and identifying bumble bees along the Tiger Lily Loop trail, locating eight species in just a few hours! Observations included the two form bumble bee, tri-coloured bumble bee, central bumble bee, indiscriminate cuckoo bumble bee, frigid bumble bee, Hunt’s bumble bee, Nevada bumble bee, and an extra exciting find – the yellow-banded bumble bee!

Photo by Julia Millen
Comparing one of the bumble bees caught to the pocket identification card for reference.

Though Glenbow Ranch was selected as a target location for this program because of the presence of the western bumble bee – a threatened species that has declined rapidly since the mid-1990’s – the yellow-banded bumble bee is a species of special concern in Canada that is typically quite rare in southern Alberta. Never before observed at Glenbow Ranch! We now have confirmed two rare bumble bees within park boundaries, which is great news for the health of the parkland ecosystem!

All trained citizen scientists are now starting to sign up for bumble bee survey shifts throughout the summer to continue to keep an eye out for species at risk at Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park, contributing valuable data for pollinator conservation. If you missed out on citizen science training, but it sounds like something that you would be interested in participating in, more pollinator conservation events are still to be scheduled throughout the summer!

Keep an eye on http://wildlifepreservation.ca/AlbertaBeeCitSci/ for updates or email us at AlbertaBeeCitSci@wildlifepreservation.ca to be kept in the loop for future workshops. Happy bee hunting

Featured Photo by Julia Millen
The yellow-banded bumble bee queen observed for the first time at Glenbow Ranch!

255001 Glenbow Road
Cochrane, Alberta T4C 0B7
Phone: 403-851-9053
Email: experienceglenbow@grpf.ca

Park Hours
The park is open for your enjoyment Sunrise to Sunset every day of the year.

Visitor Information Centre
Open 11:00 am to 3:00 pm* on weekends over the fall and winter pending volunteer availability.

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