The Western Bumble bee lives in a variety of habitats, including flowering grasslands, savannas and alpine meadows of the western
United States and western Canada.
How do you know it’s a Western Bumble bee? Like all insects, it has three main body parts, the head, thorax, and abdomen. Unlike other bumble bees, western bumble bees have white patches of hair on their abdomen.
Bees live in hives, or colonies, and the members of the hive are divided into three types: queen, worker, and drone. Each type has a specific job in the hive.
The queen runs the whole hive. Her most important job is laying eggs that will become the next generation of bees. She also releases chemicals that direct the movement and behaviour of other bees in the colony.
The worker bees are all female, and they have a variety of jobs in the colony. They forage for pollen and nectar, build the hive, as well as clean and maintain the hive. The drones are the male bees, and their job is to mate with the queen to produce more bees for the colony. They live in the hive during the spring and summer, but when winter comes, they are kicked out since they don’t help produce food.
Bees collect nectar from flowers and store it in their honey stomach. When back at the hive, they pass it mouth-to-mouth from bee to bee until the moisture content is reduced from 70% to 20%, changing it into honey!
If the queen bee dies, workers select a new queen by feeding a newly hatched larvae a special diet of ‘royal jelly’, allowing the larvae to develop into the fertile queen.
Bees play an important role in our environment by helping the pollination of flowering plants. Flowering plants need to be fertilized with pollen before they can make seeds and produce new plants. Bees transfer pollen between plants and so help with fertilization.
We’re working hard to bring the western bumblebee back to southern Saskatchewan by teaming up with Nature Conservancy Canada (NCC). By adopting a western bumblebee, you’ll help NCC purchase land that has been used for farming and transform it back into bumblebee habitats – that means planting native flowers, creating nesting spots and protected areas for overwintering. NCC will also help to educate people in Saskatchewan about how they can help the western bumblebee through their Conservation Volunteer and Indigenous Youth Education Programs.