What’s the Buzz Around Glenbow?

What's the Buzz Around Glenbow?

Photo Courtesy of Linda Vick

With our seasonal birds migrating back to our park and our May wildflower count around the corner, it feels as if Spring is here to stay at Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park! If you have had the chance to visit us lately, you may have heard a certain “Buzz” around Glenbow. We are happy to see the return of our Native Bee populations, specifically our varying species of Bumble Bee that call Glenbow home.

Although the world has over 25,000 species of bees, Canada is called home to only 800 of these species. What about Alberta? Well we have roughly only 300 species that reside here. The most common native bee, or bee that originated in Canada, is the Bumble (genus Bombus) bee.

Bees are winged, often hairy, pollen-gathering insects of the Hymenoptera order. In fact, bees are often considered the most important group of pollinators! It’s suggested that 80% of all flowering plants depend on pollinators to help them transfer pollen.

Chances are if you’ve seen a bee this early into May you’ve seen a Queen Bee! Queens are the largest Bumblebee species and can be up to 25 mm’s in length and have a wide, cupped area around their hind legs to collect pollen. This allows them to visit up to 18 flowers a minute transferring the pollen between them.

Queens will only gather pollen in the early months of Spring as most of her energy is spent laying eggs and gathering just enough food for them. These first pupa emerge as fully-grown worker bees that uptake the collecting nectar responsibility. By the summer the queen and worker bees usually have built their hive to capacity and the queen stops productivity of worker bees and starts to produce the next generation of males and queens. Only these new queens survive and hibernate through the Winter, only to start their own hives the next Spring.

The main threat that our Bees face is the loss of habitat. Areas of rich native vegetation are slowly being overrun by highways, large lawns, exotic gardens and agriculture. In order to offset this the Glenbow Ranch Park Foundation has partnered with Wildlife Preservation Canada to monitor the number of bee species here at Glenbow, as well as set up “bee boxes”. Natural environments such as Glenbow provide excellent habitat for many species of bee. The Glenbow Ranch Park Foundation continues to seek innovative ways to construct research and conservation to help our local populations thrive.

P.S. – In other news it looks like our osprey are back for another year! Be sure to keep an eye out for them just south of the train tracks!

Submitted by Nathan Foy, Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park Foundation