Today’s post is the first of another 3-part series all about bees, hornets and wasps. First up: Bees
There are over 1000 native species of bees in Canada, but the honeybee is not one of the native species. Honeybees were originally from Eurasia where they have been a domesticated species for centuries. All the “wild” honeybees we have in Canada are from colonies that escaped from domesticated hives.
Bees are able to live year-round and their hives are self-sufficient as long as the colony is able to collect enough nectar and pollen during the summer. They have been able to adapt to the Canadian climate and to life in our forests and woods since they have the ability to generate their own heat in order to warm their hives in the colder months.
Honeybee population has unfortunately been in decline due to two types of parasitic mites that have infested many hives in the past few decades. Wild honeybees in Eastern Canada have been nearly exterminated by these parasites and the infestation has spread to a large number of domestic hives. These losses, in addition to the loss of wild habitat, the effects of pesticides in and around agricultural operations and the transmission on other bacterial diseases from hive to hive mean that the numbers are continuing to decline rapidly.
Honeybees are amber to brown in colour with alternating black stripes. They are furry (with short hair) and are approximately 1.3 cm. They eat nectar from flowers and when they sting (which they won’t do unless provoked as they are considered gentle) it will kill them. Honeybees live in large colonies in flat wax-based honeycomb hives that hang vertically.
Bumblebees lived in the wild for thousands of years before people started capturing them in order to domesticate them. Unlike honeybees who have short tongues, bumblebees have long tongues which means they are able to pollinate a larger variety of flowers.
In the late 1880’s, researchers began to think about using bumblebees to their advantage when it came to agricultural matters. In 1885 and again in 1905, hundreds of bumblebees were captured and introduced into New Zealand in order to try and improve the production of red clover seed.
In Canada, the bumblebee was first used commercially in 1990 as a tomato pollinator. Throughout the world there are 5 species of bumblebee that are commercially reared. In North America only 2 are used commercially–the Bombus impatiens and Bombus occidentalis. The B. impatiens species is very successful in being used as greenhouse crop pollinators and recent studies have shown that “only 7 to 15 colonies are needed per hectare of greenhouse tomatoes, which is equal to approxiately 2000 bee trips per hectare, per day”.
Bumblebees are yellow with black stripes and are furry, but with long hair. They are considerably larger than a honeybee at 2.5 cm but like the honeybee they also eat nectar from flowers and their stings will kill them also. They too are considered gentle and will not sting unless provoked in someway. Bumblebees can be found living in the soil in small cavities.
Yes, honeybees and bumblebees are beneficial to the environment and agriculturally but that doesn’t mean you necessarily want them building hives around your home or cottage. Especially if you or someone in your family is allergic to their stings, so Cottage Country Pest Control can come in and using IPM methods we can help make your environment safer for you and your family.
To book an appointment or for more information email or call us at 705-534-7863.