Bumble Bee Research

Bumble bees play a very important role in Awenda as they pollinate many of our plant species. Unlike the introduced honey bee, bumble bees are a group of species native to this area, making their role in the ecosystem very integral. Bumble bees have been experiencing population declines, a phenomenon termed colony collapse disorder. Colony collapse disorder is thought to be a consequence of pesticide use and loss of habitat, but more research is still needed on the topic.

Brown-belted Bumble Bee (Bombus griseocollis) feeding on Spotted Knapweed (Centaurea maculosa) on the Robitaille Trail. © Copyright 2016 Awenda Provincial Park, All Rights Reserved

Brown-belted bumble bee (Bombus griseocollis) feeding on spotted knapweed (Centaurea maculosa) on the Robitaille Trail © Copyright 2016 Awenda Provincial Park, All Rights Reserved

Awenda has historically been home to 12 species of bumble bee, with 10 species having been found in recent years. Due to our rich bumble bee diversity, bumble bee researchers from York University and Wildlife Preservation Canada have done studies on the bumble bees of Awenda. These studies focus on photographing and catching bumble bees feeding on flower nectar, identifying the species, and then returning  the bee to its original location.

Park naturalist sweep-netting a bumble bee off of a flower © Copyright 2016 Awenda Provincial Park, All Rights Reserved

Park naturalist using a sweep net to catch a bumble bee on a flower © Copyright 2016 Awenda Provincial Park, All Rights Reserved

Park naturalist catching a bumble bee during a survey © Copyright 2016 Awenda Provincial Park, All Rights Reserved

Park naturalist conducting a bumble bee survey © Copyright 2016 Awenda Provincial Park, All Rights Reserved

In 2016 Wildlife Preservation Canada ran a citizen science bumble bee survey in Awenda, allowing volunteers to cover specific habitats within the park and photograph any bumble bees seen. This survey was run in conjunction with Bumble Bee Watch, a website that allows anyone to submit bumble bee sightings online. Park visitors are encouraged to submit photos to  http://www.bumblebeewatch.org/ anytime bumble bees are seen in Awenda. Submitting photos allows park visitors to help scientists monitor the status of bumble bee populations, and protect them into the future.