Honey Bee (Apis sp.) on clover
Stephanie Gellman


Bumble Bees of High Park

Ground-nesting Bees

Bee Gallery

Bee Links


Bumble Bees of High Park

A Wildlife Preservation Canada Team surveyed High Park in August 2012 and observed the following Bumble Bee Species in High Park:

  • Red-belted Bumble Bee Bombus rufocinctus
  • Common Eastern Bumble Bee Bombus impatiens
  • Two-spotted Bumble Bee Bombus bimaculatus
  • Confusing Bumble Bee Bombus perplexus
  • Brown-belted Bumble Bee Bombus griseocollis

See photos in Bee Gallery below

Ground-nesting Bees

Cellophane Bee (Colletes inaequalis)
Rob Cruikshank

In High Park there is a fairly large aggregation of ground-nesting bees (Colletes) – an elementary school's "Tickle Bees", so named for the way they feel when they land on your skin (see article). These are spring ground nesters, with perhaps 4,000 - 10,000 bees on one east-facing sandy hill, and of course many smaller groups of nesting sites throughout the oak savannah and woodlands. They are out in April and May.

These are solitary bees which don't have one large communal nest, although they dig tunnels next to one another. Each female provisions her own nest, which is a single tunnel in the sand, often at places where a path or other dip in the soil makes an exposed bank.

Collettes sp.
Rob Cruikshank

These cute little bees don't sting even if you sit right in the middle of them. They are quite an exquisite phenomena to watch and listen to, as you can see and hear at "Resonating Bodies" from artists Sarah Peebles and Stephen Humphrey!

Life Cycles of Various Solitary Bee Species
Wood-burning by Chris Bennett

There are many native pollinators in Toronto most people don't know about, and lots of them are found in the park! The Parkdale and Toronto Horticultural Societies help with the old-fashioned garden in Colborne Lodge, and their Pollinator Gardens Project has made a pollinator garden right in the park (see map) where you can see native plants and native pollinators together. You can find dates when tours of the pollinator garden will be held in the park at their Events page. In their blog, there are pictures and interesting facts about bees in the park – for instance, why do bumblebees love chipmunks? or what is that huge wasp on those weird flowers?

Scientists are still finding new bees in Toronto, and Ph.D. candidate Scott MacIvor has set up bee nesting boxes in the park to see which species can be found there.

See also Pollinator Garden.


Dr. Clement Kent - Pollinator Gardens Project

Sarah Peebles - Resonating Bodies

Bee Gallery

Brown-belted Bumble Bee
Kirsten Wazbinski
Red-belted Bumble Bee
Kirsten Wazbinski
Common Eastern Bumble Bee
Sheila Colla
Cuckoo Bee, Nomada species
Karen Yukich
Giant Resin Bee
Native to Asia, probably arrived in the U.S. by ship (first identified in North Carolina in 1994). Do not sting.
Carpenter Bee
Carpenter bees pollinate crops and home gardens. They do not sting. Homeowners are concerned about the holes they make in wood, which often lead to more serious damage by woodpeckers trying to feed on the carpenter larvae deep inside the holes.

Bee Links

Bees of Toronto

Toronto Zoo - Protecting Pollinators

Pollinator Garden Project

Bumble Bee Watch

Solitary Dream Homes (for bees!) and SDH Flickr gallery

Odes to Solitary Bees

Audio Bee Booth Demo

Packer Wild Bee Lab at York University

Keeping the Bees: Why All Bees Are at Risk and What We Can Do to Save Them

Bumblebee Guide (US) - pdf

CBC radio program - Listen to this program aired on Ideas: Dancing in the Dark - The Intelligence of Bees

A Landowner's Guide to Conserving Native Pollinators in Ontario, by Susan Chan, 2012


Pollinator Partnership books including Identification Guide for Bumblebees of the Eastern US.

Pilot Study Finds Plants Sold As ‘Bee Friendly’ Pretreated With Pesticides

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Content last modified on May 03, 2018, at 11:59 AM EST