Catching up with a Real-Life Bee Scientist


What do you want to be when you grow up? Do you want to help animals? If so, you could become a scientist, like Dr. Cory Sheffield. You might remember Dr. Sheffield as an important part of our Western bumble bee project. Well, we sat down with him to talk about what it’s like to be a real-life bee scientist! Check out his story.

cory with mantis

Like many of you, I was always curious about plants and animals when I was a kid. It wasn’t just the cute and fuzzy ones that I liked, but the creepy crawly ones too. Bugs fascinated me! I would often keep a miniature zoo of bugs in containers to look at, sketch, and later release. I knew from a very early age that I wanted to study nature, and throughout school, I continued to learn about animals and their homes.

Insect collage copy

As an adult, bugs still fascinate me and I am so lucky to be able to work with them as part of my job! I am now a scientist and curator at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum in Regina, Saskatchewan.

What do I do?

Being a scientist is all about asking questions and solving problems. There are many different subjects to study and I chose to investigate the natural world.

Specifically, I’m trying to figure out what we can do to help save bees. Bees are in trouble and we need to find out why.

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Western Bumble Bee. Photo Credit: Syd Cummings

The bee problem

We all know bees are important. Not only do they pollinate most of the food we eat, but they also pollinate the food that many other plant-eating species eat. Think of all the birds and bears that love eating berries!

Unfortunately, many species of bees and plants are becoming rare! So it’s my job to study bees and look for ways to help keep them around.

So what does it take to be a bee scientist?

To be a bee scientist like me, you need to have certain skills:
cory in bog
Do you love the outdoors?
While some of the bees and plants I study are close by and easy to get to, many are deep in the wilderness. I often camp out in a tent for several days to find certain types of rare bees.

Are you willing to meet new people?
I follow bees around all over the place and sometimes that means going into farmers’ fields. Now it’s not very polite to wander around other people’s property so I always ask first!

Are you afraid of bees?
You obviously can’t be afraid of bees if you want to study them.

How good are you at identifying bees?
Can you tell a carpenter bee from at leafcutter bee? What about a cuckoo bee from an orchid bee? If you can’t, don’t worry about it! It took me years to get my bee identification skills to where they are today and I’m still learning more about new bees every day! Being a scientist means you have to work really hard in school, especially in science and math classes.

Do you have a lot of patience?
Being out in the field is just one part of my job. I also spend a lot of time in labs at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum reviewing the data I collected in the field and identifying each species. If we have a very good season, it can take a REALLY long time to examine everything we brought back.

cory at microscope

If you want to help bees like Dr. Cory Sheffield does, you can start a Bring Back the Wild Campaign for the Western bumble bee!

A Conservation Project With

Royal Saskatchewan Museum

Earth Rangers is a non-profit organization that works to inspire and educate children about the environment. At kids can play games, discover amazing facts, meet animal ambassadors and fundraise to protect biodiversity.



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