Take part in the Great Canadian Bumble Bee Count

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this year’s Great Canadian Bumble Bee Count! Stay tuned for bumble bee photos, observations and stories from across Canada.


Canada’s wild native bees are in trouble – can you help?

The Great Canadian Bumble Bee Count takes place annually during July and August, when the bumble bees are most active. Bee Spotters from across Canada take part to help us all learn more about our wild native bumble bees.

This year we are excited to release our new Bumble Bee Count Mobile App making it easier for participants to capture and submit their bumble bee sightings. Or you can choose to continue using our online form to upload and submit your sightings.



What is the Great Canadian Bumble Bee Count?

Just like governments need a census to know what’s happening with its citizens, as well as their homes, families and jobs, we think bumble bees need their own census.  Not enough is known about wild, native bees in Canada, and what scientists do know is worrying. By taking part, you’ll learn about over 40 species of Canada’s bumble bees and ways you can help them.

By acting together to save the bees and other pollinators, we can make a difference for our food security, for wildlife and, overall, to protect biodiversity.


Why take part in the Great Canadian Bumble Bee Count?

As many as one-third of North American bumble bee species are in decline.

The Great Canadian Bumble Bee Count aims to raise awareness about the importance and conservation requirements of Canada’s over 40 species of bumble bees.  Bumble bees are crucial pollinators. Because they are capable of buzz pollination, they are particularly effective at pollinating a number of wildflowers, fruits and vegetables.

By taking part in the Great Canadian Bumble Bee Count, you can help us learn more about bumble bees and their needs.

Canada’s first officially designated endangered bee, the Rusty-patched Bumble Bee was last seen in 2009 in Pinery Provincial Park near Grand Bend, Ontario. This is a grim situation for a once abundant bumble bee – nothing to celebrate as a first.

Now, Canada has accepted the advice of scientists with the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife regarding four wild bees considered at risk. Thank you to everyone who signed our petition calling for protection.

  • The Gypsy Cuckoo Bumble Bee once found in all provinces and territories except Nunavut and the rare Macropis Cuckoo bee from Nova Scotia have been designated “endangered”;
  • the Yellow-banded Bumble Bee found all across Canada is designated “special concern”. Scientists report that it has recently declined by at least 34% in areas of Southern Canada;
  • and the Sable Island Sweat Bee is designated “threatened”.

However, the Western Bumble Bee Occidentalis found in British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan has no schedule or status under the Species at Risk Act and is still proposed to be designated “threatened” and similarly for the Western Bumble Bee mcKayi found in the Yukon, NWT and BC and proposed to be special concern.  Both sub-species are known to carry the highest parasite loads of any bumble bees in North America and are threatened by pathogen spillover from commercially managed bumble bees escaping from greenhouse operations.

If you find one of the bumble bees on this list, please take a picture and submit to Friends of the Earth through the app or the census form.  It will help us learn more about these threatened bumble bees.


Who can take part?

Anyone can get involved! Whether you are new to the wonderful world of bees or already able to tell a Common eastern bumble bee from a Yellow-banded bumble bee, we need your help. Join in the Great Canadian Bumble Bee Count!


Here’s how you can participate in the Great Canadian Bumble Bee Count:



Don’t forget to check out some of our tips for spotting bumble bees and tips for taking photos of bees!

You can also download an East Census Card and a West Census Card to better help you identify bumble bees that you spot and take pictures of.


How will Friends of the Earth use the photos and data submitted?

Friends of the Earth works with scientists who will use the submissions and observations in their work to assess how best to protect and support wild, native bees.

Friends of the Earth’s 2017 poll on wild bees revealed that Canadians care deeply about bees but know very little about them – not even names. So, for 2018 we are focusing on education; submitted photos and observations will be used in new educational projects.

Friends of the Earth Canada reserves the non-exclusive right to publish and/or use any photo(s) submission for any lawful purpose, including for example such purpose as publicity, illustration, advertising and web and social media content.


The Great Canadian Bumble Bee Count in numbers

Friends of the Earth’s 2017 Great Canadian Bumble Bee Count produced important findings that match the general scientific knowledge about the abundance of bee species in their respective locations:


More ways to help bees



If you have any questions about the Great Canadian Bumble Bee Count, please contact us by email at foe@foecanada.org or by calling 613 241-0085.