I’m setting off on a multi-year adventure to meet bees and not just any bees, but North America’s very own native species. The North American continent is home to over 4,000 known species of bees whose services are worth an estimated $3 billion dollars per year to the US economy. I’ve decided that it’s high-time to meet these native bees in person –perhaps not all 4,000– but rather the ones that play the biggest part in the development of some of our most familiar foods. I want to be present on a farm at dawn when the first squash bees arrive. I’d like to witness metallic Blue Orchard Bees in California as they visit the almond trees, and tune into the buzz of a blueberry bee as she vibrates her flight muscles to dislodge pollen from creamy-white blueberry flowers. Along the way, I’ll be documenting not only lives of the bees that I encounter, but the people’s lives that they impact. This blog will serve as of my adventure and as a place to share the stories of the species, people and places that I meet along the way.
It is my hope that we will all begin to recognize the important contributions and charming nature of our native bees. Not only do they make it possible for crops to grow, but many also happen to be visually appealing as well, which is a nice plus for anyone who enjoys wildlife watching. Although honey bees are undeniably cute, adorably fuzzy little creatures, as a whole, our native species win the beauty contest hands down. They are flashy, sleek, and unabashedly colorful inhabitants of field and forest. Sparkling like emerald encrusted fighter jets, they zip through the garden, quickly touching down and then blasting away from flower to flower. For a nature fanatic such as myself, I find it curious that most people know so little about these fascinating insects. Some of the most stunning, commonly encountered bees are found in the family Halictidae, whose many species bear the unflattering label of ‘sweat bee.’
Please visit the site often, and contact me with any questions or comments that you might have. In addition, I’m actively seeking project partners and places and people to photograph during my travels. Please reach out to me with any and all leads. Thanks! -Clay