Welcome to the neighbourhood!

2 min readMar 18, 2023
Closeup of a brown-belted bumblebee (author’s photo)

An interesting guest visited my mason bee condo yesterday.

Given this longer-than-normal winter on the Canadian west coast, it’s too early for the mason bees to be in residence. They’re still in the fridge, hibernating, waiting for the apple blossoms to open.

So, sadly, the fuzzy visitor didn’t get much of a welcome. But I was happy to see her, another suggestion that spring is near.

The visitor was a fine specimen of the species bombus grisecollis, known commonly as the brown-belted bumblebee. My reference book says that males typically perch in areas where young females might pass, advertising their availability for mating. This specimen was pretty big, though, almost an inch long — so most likely, it was a queen.

She was sunning herself on this south-facing exterior wall of the condo, and according to Wikipedia, her relatives have been found all over north America including in community gardens — even near the top of the Empire State Building. The good news is that (unlike honey bees) brown belted bumblebees are NOT a declining species in North America.

My bee condo is located near the urban core, in a patio planter garden, and within reasonable flying distance of a couple of robust community gardens. I’ve seen visitors like this one in years past, usually amongst the flowers in my garden beds.

The condo’s future inhabitants — blue mason bees (Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-SA-NC)

There are at least 30 types of bees common to this region, so I’ve got my eyes peeled for others as the summer goes by. Another gardening distraction!




Recreational writer, collector of antique corkscrews, urban gardener and retired management consultant. Still trying to figure out what to do when I grow up.