Help Wild Bumble Bees
You can help wild bumble bees, through big steps or small. Here are some ideas:
- Plant some flowers that are native to where you live.
- You don’t have to plant an elaborate garden. If you do, great! But even just a few flowers in your backyard helps, or a pot of flowers on your porch, or a planter box hanging on your balcony if you live in an apartment. You can start small, and then if you have the space, you can expand your garden over time.
- What are native flowers? These are flowers that grow naturally in the wild where you are and have not been shipped in from some other area or country. Native flowers are important because bumble bees know how to forage (collect food) from these flowers, and introducing exotic plants is not a good idea for the ecosystem. Also, some non-native flowers do not make the nectar and pollen that bumble bees need, whereas native plants do.
- If you are not sure what flowers are native to your area, search online or ask the folks who work at local nurseries. (The Canadian Wildlife Federation has an awesome online native plant encyclopedia here.)
- Avoid applying chemicals to lawns and gardens.
- Chemicals that make lawns look lush and green are actually poisoning and killing bumble bees and other important insects. We also don’t know the long-term harms of these chemicals on the greater ecosystem (and humans are part of the ecosystem!).
- Consider turning your lawn, or part of your lawn, into a wildflower garden.
- Lawns are wastelands. They provide no food or shelter for bumble bees and other important pollinators. Wildflowers, on the other hand, add splashes of colour and look beautiful while also supporting the ecosystem.
- Talk to your teachers or members of your local city council about setting up a community garden at your school or other location where you live.
- Again, it doesn’t have to be a big, elaborate garden. You can start small and expand over time.
- Pollinators also love the flowers produced by fruit and vegetable plants.
- If you see a bumble bee, take a photo and submit it to bumblebeewatch.org.
- Bumble bee sightings from the public are super important for scientists who are trying to keep track of how bumble bee populations are doing.
- If you find a bumble bee nest, leave it be.
- If you are lucky enough to find a bumble bee nest, please leave it alone. Bumble bees do not sting unless they are threatened, so if you give them space, they will do their own thing while you do yours.
- Bumble bees generally nest underground or in spots hidden from view. You can tell there’s a nest if you see bumble bees flying in and out.
- Habitat for bumble bees has become extremely scarce compared to what it once was. So if you find a bumble bee nest on your property, know that it is a privilege to host them, and that you are doing the environment a great service.
Check out these sites to learn more about bumble bees and what others are doing to help them: