Bumble bees’ long active period (spring to fall) and large bodies make them relatively easy to find compared to other bees. The best time of day to find them is anytime between 8am until 8pm, but chances are better in the morning when the flowers are freshly full of pollen and nectar for the day. In the long, hot days of summer it is helpful to get outside before it warms up about 25 degrees, as bumble bees are less active when it gets too warm out. Bumble bees are easily found around blooming flowers – take a look around gardens, parks or other green spaces around your home or cottage to get started. If you’re visiting national or provincial parks, make time to search out bumble bees. You may find the less common species – lots of excitement from scientists if you do!
Tips for spotting bumble bees:
- If you find a bumble bee with a basket of pollen on its leg, it’s a female (worker). The males (drones) do not collect pollen. The Census Cards show female (worker) colouring to help you id them.
- Look for colours! It’s easiest to find bumble bees while they are foraging on blooming flowers, shrubs and trees.
- Listen! Bumble bees also make a loud buzzing noise as they forage and move from flower to flower. Keep an ear out for them as well!
- Bee patient! If you disturb a bee, just wait and it may soon return to the same location to continue foraging.
Tips for taking photos of bumble bees:
- Look for flowers in bloom
- Move slowly (Expert tip: If you approach a bee when it is foraging on a flower, you have a likely chance of being able to get a shot of it leaving the flower with some pollen!)
- Use a macro setting if you have one
- If you find a busy bee, follow her movements and try to predict where she will go next (Expert tip: bees move in particular patterns depending on the flower shape, so it is actually possible to predict where they will land next!
- Don’t be afraid to get up close with bumble bees in order to take a close-up shot. As long as you don’t come in physical contact with them, there is a low risk of getting stung.
- Try and take multiple photos of different angles to help with identification. Pictures of their back (thorax and abdomen) are useful for using our Census Cards.