Nature Reading: “Our Native Bees” by Paige Embry

Our Native Bees by Paige Embry

Honey bees are fine bees. They dance and make honey and can be carted around by the thousands in convenient boxes, but from a pollination point of view, they aren’t super-bees. … The trusty orchard mason bees are such hard-working yet slovenly little pollen collectors that several hundred can pollinate an acre of apples that requires thousands of honey bees. Where are the book and movie deals for these bees? Well, I’m making a small start for them here.

— Paige Embry, Our Native Bees

We’ve heard a lot about honey bees and the problem with colony collapse. Yes, honey bees play an important role in pollination, but they are not native to North America. Long before honey bees, there were bees and other pollinators here. You can learn about our native bees in Our Native Bees by Paige Embry. I was amazed to learn that honey bees can’t pollinate tomato plants. But bumble bees can. Bumble bees attach themselves to the tomato flower and vibrate it with their wings. This causes the flower to release the pollen.

Here’s an excerpt from Paige Embry’s Our Native Bees. Or listen to her talk about her book on Science Friday (March 30 2018).