The Great Canadian Bumble Bee Count is on and Cowichan residents are urged to participate. (Submitted)

The Great Canadian Bumble Bee Count is on and Cowichan residents are urged to participate. (Submitted)

Bees count: help save species in trouble

It’s not a stretch to say people often stay clear of bees for fear of being stung.

Friends of the Earth, a group committed to “protecting the earth for tomorrow” would like people to set aside that fear and learn a little bit about bumble bees while taking part in the 2017 Great Canadian Bumble Bee Count.

The goal: to “learn more about what needs to be done to protect bumble bees.”

“Bees are up against big stresses like habitat loss, climate change, pesticides and diseases,” said John Bennett, senior policy advisor for Friends of the Earth Canada. “Canada has over 40 species of bumble bees but many of them are in trouble. Photos and observations about bumble bees from the Great Canadian Bumble Bee Count could signal changes in how bumble bees are dealing with the same issues you and I face — from heat waves to fires and floods. This is critical information and we really need help from concerned citizens.”

It’s easy to participate. Download the Bumble Bee Census Card and then grab your camera and head outdoors. It’s kind of like bumble bee bingo. When you see one, mark it down on your form with the date, time and location of the sighting and then snap a photo. When you’re done, submit the form to Friends of the Earth and, if you’d like, share the photos on social media with the #BumbleBeeCount hashtag. That’s it!

More than 1,200 submissions were received from across Canada in 2016. This year organizers hope to receive more entries from Cowichan citizens among the many others.

“We know from our recent poll that Canadians care deeply about saving the bees but they know very few of them by name,” said Beatrice Olivastri, CEO, Friends of the Earth Canada.

The national survey, which was released in June, found that almost seven out of 10 Canadians were either “concerned” or “very concerned” over the health of bees.

“We hope people will volunteer to go out with our census cards and take photos of the bumble bees wherever they are – cottages, national parks or their own garden,” Olivastri said. “By sending Friends of the Earth their photos and observations, they’ll be helping us learn more about what needs to be done to protect bumble bees.”

The campaign runs until Sept. 15.

For more information see: http://foecanada.org/en/issues/bumble-bee-count/

sarah.simpson@cowichanvalleycitizen.com