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Bee diversity and abundance in an urban setting

  • Désirée Tommasi (a1), Alice Miro (a1), Heather A. Higo (a1) and Mark L. Winston (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 April 2012

We assessed bee diversity and abundance in urban areas of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, to determine how urban environments can support bees. Habitats examined were community and botanical gardens, urban wild areas, Naturescape flower beds and backyards, and traditional flower beds and backyards. A total of 56 bee species (Hymenoptera), including species of the genera Andrena Fabr. (Andrenidae), Bombus Latr. (Apidae), Osmia Panzer and Megachile Latr. (Megachilidae), and Halictus Latr. and Dialictus Pauly (Halictidae), were collected. Abundance exhibited strong seasonal variation. Wild bees were most abundant during late spring, whereas honey bees peaked at the end of the summer. The most abundant species seen was the managed honey bee Apis mellifera L. (Apidae), followed by wild Bombus flavifrons Cresson. Community and botanical gardens, and plants such as cotoneaster (Cotoneaster Medik. sp.) and blackberry (Rubus discolor Weihe & Nees) (Rosaceae), centaurea (Centaurea L. sp.; Asteraceae), buttercup (Ranunculus L. sp.; Ranunculaceae), and foxglove (Digitalis L. sp.; Scrophulariaceae), had the highest abundance of bees, while bee populations in wild areas were the most diverse. Weeds such as dandelions (Taraxacum officinale G.H. Weber ex Wiggers; Asteraceae) dominated these wild areas and had one of the highest diversities of bee visitors. Traditional flower beds with tulips (Tulipa L. sp.; Liliaceae) and petunias (Petunia Juss. sp.; Solanaceae) had relatively poor diversity and abundance of bees throughout the year. Our study suggests that urban areas have the potential to be important pollinator reservoirs, especially if both bloom and habitat heterogeneity are maintained and enhanced through sustainable urban planning.


Nous avons estimé la diversité et l'abondance d'abeilles dans différents biotopes urbains de la ville de Vancouver, Colombie-Britannique, Canada, afin de déterminer comment les environnements urbains peuvent supporter les abeilles. Les habitats examinés incluent les jardins potagers et botaniques, les environs urbains sauvages, les parterres et les arrière-cours dits Naturescape, et les parterres et les arrière-cours traditionnels. Nous avons ressemblé un total de 56 espèces d'abeilles (Hymenoptera) dont Andrena Fabr. (Andrenidae), Bombus Latr. (Apidae), Osmia Panzer et Megachile Latr. (Megachilidae), Halictus Latr. et Dialictus Pauly (Halictidae). L'abondance a présenté une forte variation saisonnière. Les abeilles féeriques étaient considérablement plus abondantes pendant la dernière moitié du printemps, tandis que les abeilles d'élevage étaient plus abondantes pendant la dernière moitié de l'été. L'espèce la plus abondante était l'abeille d'élevage, Apis mellifera L. (Apidae), suivie de l'espèce féerique Bombus flavifrons Cresson. Les jardins potagers et botaniques des plantes telles que Cotoneaster Medik sp. et Rubus discolor Wehie & Ness (Rosaceae), Centaurea L. sp. (Asteraceae), Ranunculus L. sp. (Ranunculaceae), et Digitalis L. sp. (Scrophulariaceae) ont présenté la plus élevée abondance d'abeilles alors que les environs urbains sauvages ont exhibé les plus diverses populations d'abeilles. « Mauvaise herbes », comme les Taraxacum officinale G.H. Weber ex Wiggers (Asteraceae), dominaient ces habitats et présentaient la diversité d'abeilles visiteuses las plus élevée. Les parterres traditionnels, avec fleures telles que les Tulipa L. sp. (Liliaceae) et les Petunia Juss. sp. (Solanaceae), présentaient une diversité d'abeilles relativement pauvre tout au cour de l'an. Notre étude suggère que les zones urbaines ont du potentiel comme important réservoir de pollinisation, surtout quand et l'hétérogénéité d'habitat et hétérogénéité de fleures sont maintenues et accrues à travers le développement urbain durable.

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The Canadian Entomologist
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