This beautiful bee is Bombus Vosnesenskii, the native Yellow Faced Bumblebee.
You can imagine our surprise and joy to see this amazing creature dancing from flower to flower in the protected coastal meadows of Cambria California last weekend!
The flower in these pictures is a coastal California native too -- erigeron glaucus known as “Seaside Daisy”. You can see how they’re supporting this population of bumblebees with plenty of nectar and pollen.
Yellow Faced Bumblebee vs the Western Bumblebee
Once very common from British Colombia to central California, since the 90’s, populations of the Western Bumblebee Bombus Occidentalis have nearly disappeared. It is listed as a ‘vulnerable’ species on the IUCN Red List, which means it is one step away from being endangered. The suspects are pesticides (particularly ground drenching pesticides), disease such as nosema bombi, loss of habitat and lack of nutrition.
To identify bumblebees, the Xerces Society has a wonderfully descriptive diagram on their page -- check out the Bumblebee identification tab here.
“Beekeeping” the Western Bumblebee largely ended when most commercially kept hives used for pollination died out in the mid 90’s, possibly due to a nosema bombi epidemic spreading quickly between hives.
We’d love to hear from people who used to keep them or raise them for commercial pollination, or anyone involved with them today. We have already reached out the the Xerces Society with our report.
Bumblebees in Action
It was an incredible treat to see tens of these Yellow Faced Bumblebees up close as we walked along the coastal preserve. Check them out:
These native pollinators are a symbol of why coastal re-vegetation is important, and that paying attention to the environment can pay off!
Can’t wait to monitor a hive of this native local wonder, and help spread the word.