Native bees

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:

https://www.xerces.org/pollinator-resource-center/northeast

 

Nature's Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard by Douglas W. Tallamy

 

https://ag.umass.edu/sites/ag.umass.edu/files/pdf-doc-ppt/2-1-17_a_review_on_bees.pdf

A painted side of a doorway. The outline rectangle is painted light blue, while in the middle there is a gradient of dark indigo to light blue rectangles from the top to the bottom. On top of these rectangles are semi realistic paintings of bees. At the top is a fuzzy yellow bee with a striped end and yellow center with its wings out. Below it reads, in all caps, “Plasterer”. The next is a black bee with yellow spots at the back and its wings out. Below it reads, in all caps, “Leaf Cutter”. The next is a large bee with a fuzzy center and a black back with its wings out. Below it reads, in all caps, “Large Carpenter”. The next is a black bee with a yellow, red, and black striped back with its wings out. Below it reads, in all caps, “Mason”. The last is a thin black bee with faint yellow stripes on its body with its wings out. Below it reads, in all caps, “Yellow masked”. At the bottom, in light blue on a dark blue background reads, in all caps, “With help from: The Ottoson School Green Te” [the rest is cut off].
A painted side of a doorway. The outline rectangle is painted light blue, while in the middle there is a gradient of dark indigo to light blue rectangles from the top to the bottom. On top of these rectangles are semi realistic paintings of bees. At the top is a yellow bee with a striped end and yellow center with its wings out. Below it reads, in all caps, “Long horned”. The next is a red bee, with a black center and red striped end and its wings out. Below it reads, in all caps, “Cuckoo”. The next is a yellow-and-black striped bee, bigger than the rest with its wings out. Below it reads, in all caps, “Digger”. The next is an all light blue bee with its wings out. Below it reads, in all caps, “Sweat”. The last is a fuzzy striped yellow and black bee with its wings out. Below it reads, in all caps, “Bumble”.  Above the door is a semi realistic painting of the moon on a dark indigo background.