Become a fan on Facebook Follow us on Twitter USDA Blog Feed Watch USDA videos on YouTube Subscribe to receive e-mail updates View USDA Photos on Flickr Subscribe to RSS Feeds

USDA Forest Service Booklet Touts Value of Native Bees

From Bee Basics: The southeastern blueberry bee (Habropoda laboriosa) visiting blossoms of a rabbiteye blueberry (Vaccinium virgatum).

The USDA Forest Service, along with Pollinator Partnership, has produced a booklet called Bee Basics: An Introduction to our Native Bee. From the booklet, the southeastern blueberry bee (Habropoda laboriosa) visiting blossoms of a rabbiteye blueberry (Vaccinium virgatum).

When I was a kid, there was one category for bees – “the stinging kind.” Fear of being stung wouldn’t allow me to consider variations among the swarms that patrolled playgrounds. The only thing that made bees tolerable was … the honey.

Youthfully ignorant, I didn’t know that there are thousands of bee species (and some bee species are stingless) or that those bees on the playgrounds were more life saving than threatening.

The USDA Forest Service, along with Pollinator Partnership, has produced a booklet called Bee Basics: An Introduction to our Native Bees to educate the public and encourage people to help protect these essential insects.

The 40-page booklet primarily focuses on bees native to North America, of which there are 4,000 species, found in forests, farms, cities, wildlands and deserts.  Although honey bees may be most noted for producing honey, the booklet explains that native bees are valued for pollinating plants.

The USDA Forest Service, along with Pollinator Partnership, has produced a booklet called Bee Basics: An Introduction to our Native Bee. From the booklet, two female Morrison's bumble bees (Bombus morrisoni) sonicate the pollen from pored-anthers of a garden tomato.

The USDA Forest Service, along with Pollinator Partnership, has produced a booklet called Bee Basics: An Introduction to our Native Bee. From the booklet, two female Morrison's bumble bees (Bombus morrisoni) sonicate the pollen from pored-anthers of a garden tomato.

“Much of the produce we eat is pollinated by bees,” said Larry Stritch, a USDA Forest Service National Botanist. “They pollinate about 75 percent of the fruits and vegetables grown in the (United States) and 80 percent of flowering plants. Take away bees and you greatly decrease our food source and food for animals.”

According to “Bee Basics,” ground nesting bees provide food to wildlife and aerate and enrich soil.  

The North American bumble bee, characterized by their relatively large, black, furry bodies and bright stripes, may be most familiar to Americans. There are about 50 species of bumble bees, which are important pollinators of tomatoes and clovers, a forage crop for cattle.

Bumble bees are among the Apidae family of bees, which also include native carpenter, squash and cuckoo bees, and nonnative stingless, orchid and honey bees.

Honey bees are the only natural source of honey that’s healthy for humans. Brought to America from Europe, honey bees don’t pollinate native plants as effectively as native bees.

Along with information about a variety of bees, “Bee Basics” also contains pages of glossy, color illustrations of bees and plants. The booklet’s key message warns of the threat to native-bee survival that is posed by pesticides, competition for nectar from honey bees, and environmental destruction.

To learn more about native bees, read “Bee Basics” on the Forest Service website.  

Female adrenid bees (Andrena cornelli) foraging for nectar on azalea (Rhododendron canescens).

The USDA Forest Service, along with Pollinator Partnership, has produced a booklet called Bee Basics: An Introduction to our Native Bee. From the booklet, female adrenid bees (Andrena cornelli) foraging for nectar on azalea (Rhododendron canescens).

8 Responses to “USDA Forest Service Booklet Touts Value of Native Bees”

  1. laurie says:

    Is this booklet available printed, or only available on-line as a pdf? If so, how do I purchase/order booklets for our bee association?

  2. Denise Shreeve says:

    I love this! Thank you for putting this artistic and informative piece together. So few people know that any bees but honey, bumble and yellow jacket/wasp even exist, so I hope this gets the attention it deserves.

    One observation: You list Mason Bee Homes as a nesting site supplier, but they only provide nesting tubes made of plastic, which you wisely mention as being unsuitable. They are also located in Canada, and are not one of the many US-based suppliers.

    Those of us who live on the east coast need nesting tubes/bee houses that consider our hot and very humid conditions, so it would be gratifying if you would also include some east coast suppliers on your list.

    Thanks again!
    Denise Shreeve
    OurNativeBees.com

  3. Lisa Morin says:

    Yes, I agree Laurie. I would love to be able to pay to get printed copies so that I could distribute them to the farmers and landowners I work with!

  4. Pam Selby says:

    I would love to have a copy of this book to use teaching children about gardening and the environment.

  5. Cindy Newkirk says:

    I would like to order printed copies, if able. For our farmers and educational programs. Please contact me. Thank you, Cindy

  6. Robert Smith says:

    The Pollinator Partnership offers copies of “Bee Basics- An Introduction to Native Bees” By Beatriz Moisset, Ph.D and Stephen Buchmann, Ph.D.

    http://pollinator.org/books.htm

  7. Elfrieda Tullar says:

    I tried to order this booklet, but there seems to be a glitch, and was unable to “Add to Cart”. Help please – as I would like to order this booklet.
    Thanks so much
    Elfrieda

  8. Ben [USDA Moderator] says:

    Hi Elfrieda, thanks for your comment. We think there may have been an issue and think it is now resolved. Please try again and see if it will work now.

Leave a Reply