There are hundreds of species of native bees in Massachusetts, and they play a critical role in local ecosystems. The mural features a variety of these species. On the left side, there is the plasterer bee, leaf cutter bee, large carpenter bee, mason bee, and yellow-masked bee. On the right side, there is the long-horned bee, digger bee, cuckoo bee, sweat bee, and bumblebee.
Most people know about the importance of honey bees but not about native bees. After being introduced to America by European colonists, honey bees are celebrated as the “best” pollinators, but though they have an important role in agriculture, they can outcompete native bees and introduce parasites to vulnerable populations. Native bees are effective pollinators, and because of coevolution, they are often specialized to work with native plants, giving them an irreplaceable role.
Right now, native bees are at risk due to declining populations. Several factors have been accredited to this change, including habitat loss, the spread of invasive species, pathogens, pesticide use, and climate change.
So, what can you do to help? Below is a list of four easy action steps to support native bee populations from the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation:
Further reading / sources:
Nature's Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard by Douglas W. Tallamy