An un-BEE-lievable discovery

City staff are buzzing after an endangered bee was found in the bee boulevard along Canyon Meadows Drive.

The endangered bee — a Gypsy Cuckoo Bumble Bee (Bombus Bohemicus) – was found on the site last year and identified this winter. The large and distinctive bee has seen a decline in population over the past 30 years in Canada. As a result, it was added to the endangered list in May 2014. 

The new pollinator-friendly corridor, where the bee was discovered, runs along Canyon Meadows Drive from Macleod Trail to Bow Bottom Trail. Staff from Parks and Roads, along with partners from around Calgary, created the natural infrastructure project to reduce maintenance in the area and create a home for pollinators such as bees and butterflies.

The bee boulevard features native flowers, grasses and shrubs, as well as nesting habitats that include a log that visitors can open to see bees working, a bee hotel and informational signs. A main bee bed — designed in the shape of a flower — has been built near Acadia Drive S.E. and Canyon Meadows Drive S.E.

The site incorporates re-purposed and recycled materials and was created with the involvement of over 300 students to plant milk weed for monarch butterflies. The materials used include logs for a bee nest from trees that were removed from a local golf course, as well as recycled concrete and sandstone boulders from road construction.

David Misfeldt, boulevard maintenance technician from Calgary Roads came up with the idea. “There are a lot of talented people at The City and when you tap into that it’s amazing what can get done,” he says. “By getting everyone involved and organized upfront we were able to get a lot more accomplished.”

Staff from The City worked together with individuals from the University of Calgary, Mount Royal University and the David Suzuki Foundation on the project. Researchers from the University of Calgary will continue to monitor the bee population to see if the number of species increases in the area.

The bee boulevard is a great example of a natural infrastructure project that delivers value to Calgarians in a unique way. Natural infrastructure is a pillar of the draft Resilient Calgary Strategy which will be brought to Council in the next few months.

*Photo courtesy of Ivar Leitus