Wild America: Imagine Living In A World Without Bees

There are over 4,000 different species of Native American bees.

Imagine a world without apples, grapes, peaches, plums, watermelon, avocados, carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers, walnuts and countless other fruits, vegetables and nuts that need bees to pollinate them.

Bees are really important — and not just honey bees but also the over 4,000 different species of Native American bees. In fact, the honey bee, remarkable as it is, doesn’t know how to pollinate a tomato or an eggplant flower, while some native bees are masters at this.

The same thing happens with a number of native plants, such as pumpkins and squash, blueberries and cranberries, which are more efficiently pollinated by native bees than by honey bees.

Over the past 10 years, experts have heard a lot about the shocking disappearance of honey bees. However, many people don’t realize is that native bees are dying off as well. Fortunately, there are some conservation superheroes on a mission to save these bees.

In 2013, natural history photographer Clay Bolt set out on an adventure to meet, photograph and tell the stories of many of these beautiful, beneficial insects. Soon he came across a specimen of a rusty-patched bumble bee in a scientific collection and learned about its tragic decline. Determined to use his photography to create more awareness about the insect’s demise, he worked with partners to create a film, which he then shared across the country on behalf of the bee, from small venues to a rare opportunity to present it on Capitol Hill.

In January 2017, these efforts paid off, and the rusty-patched bumble bee became the first species of native North American bee to receive protection under the Endangered Species Act.

In 2019, Bolt became the first photographer to document a living Wallace’s Giant Bee-the world’s largest bee, which was thought to be extinct for nearly 40 years.

Clay will be at Panama Rocks for the Wild America Nature Festival on July 27 and 28. During his engaging presentation, he will discuss North America’s native bees, the important roles that they play and what can be done to save them.

The Wild America Nature Festival will also feature Lee Peterson, the younger of two sons of Roger Tory Peterson, who has worked in the world of Natural History his entire life and is the author/illustrator of “A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants of Eastern and Central North America” who will discuss Roger Tory’s legacy and wild edibles; RTPI President, Dr. Twan Leenders, who will highlight the surprising flora and fauna found in our backyards; artist and conservationist Matt Patterson who will discuss amphibians and turtle conservation; expert animal handlers Jeff Musial, Sky Hunters falconry, and Wild Spirit Education (and their amazing animal ambassadors); wild edible experts Sarah Sorci, Garret Taylor, and Quincey Widger; music by Steel Rails and Davis and Eng; meditation by Stephen Gordon; yoga with Dariel DeGennaro Woltz and Jennifer Raines; and nature activities with the Audubon Community Nature Center and Greysone Nature Preserve.