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Cub Reporter Corner: Pollinator Power!

October 26, 2020

Wild Lands Advocate update by: Abigail Hadden

Click here for a pdf version of the article.

In February, my family and I attended Megan Evans’ session on Alberta native bees at the AWA office. We learned all about Alberta native bees and how to make a bee box – a house for bees. One of biggest things you can do to help native bees is to have a bee box in your yard in addition to having native plants and flowers.

After attending the session and learning how bees are losing their habitat, my family decided to design an Adventure for Wilderness for adventurers that included an informational GPS scavenger hunt ending with building a bee box in our backyard. Covid 19 changed our plans. Instead of giving up on the adventure we convinced my Papa to help us build bee boxes to raise awareness for the bees and raise money for AWA. Originally we were only going to make 20 boxes but it turned out to be really popular and we ended up making 65 boxes. These boxes have been distributed all the way from Edmonton to Lake Louise. Our adventure raised $5,500 for AWA!

Here are some facts we learned during our adventure.  Did you know…

  • there are 321 species of native bees in Alberta?
  • the difference between native bees and honey bees is that native bees are strictly pollinators and the native bees only produce enough honey for them to live off of?
  • bees eat nectar and pollen?
  • a bee’s typical range is close to their home but they can travel up to 5km if they must find food?
  • bees are typically yellow and black to warn predators?
  • only female bees have stingers?
  • threats facing native bees include habitat loss, disease from managed bees, and climate change?
  • a bee box is a great way to help native bees?
  • most bee boxes do NOT get colonized the first year because they smell too new?
  • bees like weathered boxes?

If you put a bee box in your garden this is what you need to keep in mind. You can do your part as a citizen scientist and register it with the Alberta Native Bee Council (ANBC). The box should be put out in the early spring. Do not peek or move the box! If your box does get colonized, enjoy watching the bees come and go. Once Thanksgiving comes around you can contact the ANBC to collect the contents. Wash the box, especially around the hole, with a mild bleach solution. You can keep it outside to continue the weathering process or bring it inside.  If your box doesn’t get colonized, keep it outside to weather and choose a new spot for it in the spring. Be citizen scientists and report your bee box activity to the ANBC in the fall.

Neither of my family’s bee boxes were colonized this year but we won’t lose hope. My family and I are going to leave them out through the winter to get weathered and we will pick new spots for them in the spring. We have noticed all kinds of bees around our yard. From tiny ones to big, fat bumble bees, we have tried to identify them but they fly too fast! Protecting our Alberta native bees is important because they pollinate all kinds of plants and flowers. Bee decline is a real phenomenon in Alberta and we all need to do our part to save the bees.

I would like to thank Megan Evans from the Alberta Native Bee Council for allowing me to interview her for my article. I would also like to thank all the people who dontated to our adventure and for keeping us up to date on the status of their bee boxes. I love the pictures! If you want to get more information on Alberta’s Native Bees, to register your bee box, or report your bee box activity check out the Alberta Native Bee Council’s website: https://www.albertanativebeecouncil.ca/

Hey young conservationists! Tired of adults dominating conservation discussions, discussions about your future? If so, pitch a story idea for this Cub Reporter Corner to the editor at iurquhart@abwild.ca. Stories should be approximately 250 to 500 words long and may report on any environmental or conservation issue you feel is important to Albertans.

In the past I've seen chaos in the hills. And because I study cumulative effects, I know that everything is related. So I've come to realize that there is a big picture and we won't get there unless we plan along the way.
- Roger Creasey
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