What is the Atlas of the Wild Bees of Brussels?
The Atlas of the Wild Bees of the Brussels-Capital Region is a research and education project financed by Brussels Environment for 2019-2020 with the aim of better understanding the diversity, distribution, abundance, population trends and ecological needs of more than 150 species of wild bees currently encountered in Brussels, Belgium.
The informal name of the project 'WildBnB' is the acronym for 'Wild Bees and Brussels' and recalls the concept of Bed and Breakfast, because our bees need a nesting place (Bed) but also host plants (Breakfast). The image in the center of the logo, inspired from an original idea by Jonathan Kalifat, represents a buff-tailed bumblebee (Bombus terrestris), a common species of wild bee observable all year long in Belgium.
Why do we need an atlas of the wild bees?
When we talk about bees, everyone obviously thinks about the European honey bee (Apis mellifera), but did you know that there are nearly 400 species of wild bees in Belgium, and that about half of them can be found in Brussels? From large bumblebees to tiny solitary bees nesting in the ground or hollow stems, wild bees play an essential role with the pollination of our native plants, in our natural ecosystems, parks, gardens and vegetable gardens. Unfortunately, some of these species have not been observed for decades and many more are threatened with extinction because of the difficult living conditions in our urban areas.
This atlas is a way for Brussels Environment to assess the current diversity and health of wild bee populations, to highlight which species are currently threatened and how we could help them.
At the end of this project in 2020, we will publish an illustrated atlas with more than 150 species of bees found in Brussels, with photos, descriptions, distribution maps, biology and much more!
Who is running this project?
This project is financed by Brussels Environment (IBGE) and set up by the team of Prof. Nicolas Vereecken at the Agroecology Lab of the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) in collaboration with Natuurpunt, Natagora and the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences. The project contributes to the regional strategy for wild bees and pollinators, led by the Department of Nature Development (Julien Ruelle) of Brussels Environment.
The project leader is Prof. Nicolas Vereecken (Agroecology lab, ULB). The general coordination of the project is done by Stéphane De Greef (ULB, Agroecology Lab) and field surveys are jointly conducted by ULB (Stéphane De Greef), Natuurpunt (David De Grave, Samuel De Rycke, Maarten Cuypers, Jens D'Haeseleer, Win Vertommen) and the Royal Institute of Natural Sciences of Belgium (Alain Pauly).
But this project can not be completed without support from citizen science! We will need YOU and your presence in the field to share your observations and specimens in 2019-2020, allowing us to better understand the diversity and distribution of bees in Brussels.
Do you want to help us ? It's easy ! Join us!