I realized that I had posted about this new publication on Twitter, but not here–this must be remedied ASAP!
A beautiful publication was recently released by the USDA Forest Service and the Pollinator Partnership:
Bee Basics: An Introduction to Our Native Bees
By Beatriz Moisset and Stephen Buchmann.
“The full-color 40 page booklet is jam-packed with information about how representative bees of 3,500 species inhabiting the US and bordering areas make a living, which flowers they visit, whether they nest underground or in hollow stems or wood. The diversity of bees is examined along with notes on their wasp ancestry. The lives of leafcutter, mason, bumble bees, miners and others is explored…. Tips for easy things gardeners, home owners and naturalists can do to protect and conserve bees and their flowers are given. “
It is about as nice an introduction to basic bee biology as you could ask for, with the bonus of beautiful artwork. If you haven’t downloaded your free copy of the PDF, get with the clicking!!
Homebuggarden commented earlier this week:
“Has anyone come across a good source of information on providing nest support for alternative pollinators such as bumblebees, digger bees, and the like?”
There is Michigan specific advice in a PDF here (and any day now I’ll get around to reviewing the awesome paper those authors published in Ecology Frontiers….) There is also a plant list for Michigan in this PDF publication.
You can find a list of all the excellent Xerces Society publications online here, downloadable free as PDFs!
I got an email recently from the Xerces Society about some senatorial action:
“Please contact your Senators and ask them to sign on to a letter by Senator Boxer in support of vital research on agricultural pollinators. …The deadline for Senators to sign on to this letter is Wednesday, May 6. Providing funding for research into the causes and remedies of honey bee and native bee declines is a critical step in pollinator conservation….
Senator Boxer has written a letter requesting that the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee allocate $20 million in Fiscal Year 2010 for pollinator research projects as authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill….to promote the health of honey bees and native pollinators through habitat conservation and best management practices.”
There is some additional coverage of Boxer’s actions here; including blurbs from May Berenbaum!
You can download a free PDF of “Using Farm Bill Programs for Pollinator Conservation” at the Xerces site; it’s a joint USDA-NRCS-Xerces publication. It discusses how existing farm programs (Conservation reserve, etc) can be used to promote native bee populations.
[Anna may or may not endorse the contents of this post; but had to link to Shiny! ]
Native bees provide insurance against ongoing honey bee losses
“One of the values of biodiversity is that it may provide ‘biological insurance’ for services currently rendered by domesticated species or technology. We used crop pollination as a model system, and investigated whether the loss of a domesticated pollinator (the honey bee) could be compensated for by native, wild bee species….Simulation results predict that native bees alone provide sufficient pollination at > 90% of the farms studied. Furthermore, empirical total pollen deposition at flowers was strongly, significantly correlated with native bee visitation but not with honey bee visitation.”
This is extremely encouraging, and I’d be interested in seeing this tested. However, excluding honeybees while allowing native bees access is a pretty tall order.
This was especially interesting in the context of Doug’s recent post about why conserving biodiversity is important. (Which very good, BTW, and you should read it.)
I look at this paper on native bees, and I think “Great! More evidence I can use to convince people to save habitat!” But–are we really at a stage where the only way we can justify conservation is utilitarian?
Regrettably, I think the answer is yes. An aesthetic/intrinsic value argument is doomed. We are a utilitiarian culture, and most people want to know what Use/Value something is before they take action.
Which kind of sucks.