Wild bees need YOU, and YOU need wild bees.
Plants + Pollinators = Food. It's that simple. While humans provide the farm labor to grow this food, bees do all the work to pollinate it. Without their efforts we would experience drastic reductions in the variety, quality, and quantity of fruits and vegetables available for us to eat. Many meat and dairy foods would also become scarce because bees pollinate feed crops such as clover and alfalfa.
Bee populations have dwindled worldwide in recent decades due to factors including habitat loss, disease, parasites, chemical use, and farming practices such as monoculture. We've made changes in land use and farming technology without considering how those changes affect the pollination process. We have ignored the needs of the bees. If we hope to continue enjoying the bees' free pollination services that produce our food, we need to do things differently. One of those things is to invite native bees back into our yards, gardens, and farms. That's why I became a wild bee advocate.
What are wild bees?
There are approximately 4,000 species of bees worldwide. Only 7 of those species are honey bees. The other 3,993 species are bees that don't make honey but DO help pollinate our food crops. They include bumble bees, sweat bees, leafcutter bees, mason bees, and carpenter bees. They live in the ground and in cavities in wood and rocks. Many of them are solitary, which means they are not part of a colony and tend to NOT be aggressive.
Why the focus on native pollinators instead of honey bees?
We have come to rely on the honey bee to produce our food, but this is not a healthy relationship for either party. Our wild bees are highly efficient pollinators that are adapted to our plants and our climate. In the case of the blue orchard mason bee, one female is estimated to be as effective as 100 honey bees when pollinating a fruit tree. This means it takes fewer wild bees to do the work and they are less expensive and time-consuming than a hive of honey bees. By learning their needs and supporting them, we can enable wild bees to naturally increase their populations and continue to provide us with essential pollination services and take some of the stress off of the honey bee.