Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Western Bumble Bee Documented in BC

 Western Bumble Bee (Bombus occidentalis), photo by Jeremy Gatten

Thanks to biologist Jeremy Gatten, we now have photos of the rare Western Bumble Bee (Bombus occidentalis) on E-Fauna BC, taken at Tod Creek Flats on Vancouver Island.  This species, also known as the White-bottomed Bee, had seriously declined in western North America.  Bumble Bee expert Robbin Thorp, who identified the bee in the photo, says:  "This species declined drastically in the western portions of its range from central California to southern BC over 10 years ago. It is just now beginning to show signs of recovery within scattered areas of its most severe decline, including the nearby Seattle area."  Jeremy's photo, taken on August 17, 2013, confirms that the species is still present in BC. 

The Xerces Society provides good detail on this rare species, including the following information:  "These bees can still be found in the northern and eastern parts of their historic range, but the once common populations from southern British Columbia to central California have nearly disappeared. This bumble bee is an excellent pollinator of greenhouse tomatoes and cranberries, and has been commercially reared to pollinate these crops. In the past, it has also been an important pollinator of alfalfa, avocado, apples, cherries, blackberries, and blueberry."

View the E-Fauna BC atlas page for this species here.

Read the Xerces Society page on the Western Bumble Bee here.

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