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USDA Forest Service Booklet Touts Value of Native Bees

Posted by Reggie Woodruff, Media Relations Officer, U.S. Forest Service in Forestry
Aug 04, 2011
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).
Category/Topic: Forestry

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Comments

laurie
Aug 06, 2011

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?

Denise Shreeve
Aug 06, 2011

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

Lisa Morin
Aug 10, 2011

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!

Pam Selby
Aug 11, 2011

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

Cindy Newkirk
Aug 15, 2011

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

Robert Smith
Aug 16, 2011

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

Elfrieda Tullar
Jul 01, 2014

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

Ben Weaver
Jul 01, 2014

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.

Denise Pieratos
Jun 12, 2017

Do you know where we can buy stingless bees in the US for an indoor aeroponic farm?

Denise Pieratos
Jun 12, 2017

Do you know where we can buy stingless bees in the US for an indoor aeroponic farm?

Donna Lambiase
Mar 28, 2019

I am interested in purchasing the booklet "Bumblebees of the Western United States" - Koch , Strange and Williams.
I am going to participate in the Xerces Society bumble bee watch and nesting research for civilians. I would like the "Bee Basics" handbook, also, if it is available.

Ben Weaver
Mar 29, 2019

@Donna Lambiase - thank you for your comment. We do have the handbook available. Here is the Bee Basics handbook (PDF, 1.5 MB).

Margie Hall
Apr 15, 2019

Hello,
I really like this booklet, and was wondering if I could purchase a copy?
I work with the National Wildlife Federation Habitat Steward program, my friends and I have trained
40 people with support from our Conservancy and NWF to train people to create more habitat
friendly gardens. Your booklet would be valuable information to our training.

I don't have a color printer at home, so I'd be interested in a copy, and if you could please send me the cost of multiple copies that we could use for our Habitat training.
Thank you very much,

Margie Hall