Research by IE CEO confirms the existence of the western bumble bee (Bombus occidentalis) and the yellowbanded bumble bee (Bombus terricola) in the Yukon and British Columbia, Canada.
His paper on “Late-season Survey of Bumble Bees along Canadian Highways of British Columbia and Yukon Territories” appears in August issue of North American Naturalist.
These species have become increasingly rare in the lower 48 and Southern BC over the last couple of decades. Hatten described the study as a relatively quick and limited survey to detect the presence of bumble bees in British Columbia and the Yukon. “What we can say is that we found these species in flower patches right along the region’s big roadways, and we found them to be common enough to warrant optimism for their persistence in the region,” he explained. The study also provides important new distribution data for the yellowbanded bumble bee, whose presence in northern British Columbia has not been documented in scientific journals for several decades.
Across the temperate regions of the planet, bumble bees are important pollinators of flowers in both unmanaged and cultivated ecosystems. However, in higher elevations and northern latitudes such as the northwestern United States, they are among the most important pollinators. Both the yellowbanded and the western bumble bees were once common in the United States. The yellowbanded bumble bee’s range extended from southern Canada into the eastern and Midwestern United States; while the western bumble bee was prevalent in the western areas of both countries. Habitat loss, disease, fungal infections and exposure to pesiticides have all been suggested as reasons for their decline.
“Why populations appear healthy (in our study area) as compared to further south is unknown and warrants further study,” said Hatten.