Photo Credit: Christy Stewart

Without a doubt you’ve heard the recent media coverage about bee deaths and pesticide use.  While usually these reports refer to the death of managed honey bees exposed to the pesticides while out foraging, there is also a threat to native bees as well

This year Wildlife Preservation Canada is teaming up with York University to look at disease levels in native bumble bees in various habitats in Ontario and Quebec, including those where pesticides are used.  We are aiming to find out whether bees exposed to pesticides find themselves with higher levels of diseases than those found in high quality natural sites.  Introduced parasites (like Nosema Bombi) are thought to be a potential threat to at-risk species including the rusty-patched bumblebee, so figuring out what might increase these levels is of upmost importance to our pollinator program.

We also are continuing to search for the endangered rusty-patched bumblebee throughout its range in Canada.  In the US, recent sightings have been in Wisconsin and Minnesota so fingers crossed we can locate a population here too!  The last individual in Canada was found in 2009 at Pinery Provincial Park. 

~ Sheila R. Colla, Ph.D., Project Leader, Wildlife Preservation Canada, IUCN SSC Bumblebee Specialist Group, North America Co-Coordinator