Protecting the Rusty-patched bumble bee

Protecting the… 
Rusty-patched bumble bee!

The conservation of wildlife in its natural habitat has rested at the heart of the Ecomuseum Zoo’s mission since its inception. Our expertise in the protection of Québec’s reptiles and amphibians does not prevent the zoo’s team of biologists from holding dear the protection of other species be they flora or fauna. This year our team jumped at the opportunity to get involved for the protection of a species new to the Ecomuseum Zoo: the Rusty-patched bumble bee!

The Rusty-patched bumble bee (Bombus afinis) is a species heading toward extinction here in Canada. Populations of this pollinator are presently in great decline here and in the United States. The cause of said decline is attributed mostly to the increased use of pesticides, but also to the transmission of diseases, to climate change and to intensive agriculture practices. The only known population in Canada is found in southern Ontario. According to entomological surveys, the species was, at a certain time, abundant in the regions of Oka and Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Québec. However no recent species surveys had been undertaken.

Thanks to funding received from the Fonds autochtone pour les espèces en péril (Environnement et Changement climatique Canada), the Ecomuseum Zoo is participating in a project seeking to acquire knowledge about, and confirming the presence of, the Rusty-patched bumble bee by undertaking a survey targeting this important pollinator. In 2017 and 2018 surveys were conducted in Montréal’s West Island and in Oka National Park. Despite the abundant capture and identification of numerous bumble bee species, the rare Rusty-patched bumble bee was unfortunately not yet detected. That being said, the Yellow-banded bumble bee (Bombus terricola), another threatened species, was detected by the Ecomuseum Zoo’s team of biologists in Oka National Park. In 2019 the Kanesatake territories will be the target of surveys for this important project.

Let’s cross our fingers for wonderful discoveries in 2019!