By now you’ve likely heard the bad news about honey bees. Populations have declined precipitously in the U.S. over the past few years, due to a combination of factors including pests, pathogens and pesticide use—so much so that beekeepers in some states have formed lobbyist groups to help draw attention to the problem. The shrinking number of honey bees is a problem, because pollinators are essential for agriculture, and honey bees pollinate an estimated $15 billion of U.S. crops each year.
Honey bees are only one of 20,000 bee species on the planet, however, and a diversified bee portfolio could go a long way in helping ensure the security of our food systems. At least that’s part of the argument in Mason Bee Revolution: How the Hardest Working Bee Can Save Our Planet One Backyard at a Time, a primer on how gentle, productive pollinators like mason bees could make a huge difference in the way we approach agriculture. The book is co-authored by food writer Jill Lightner and Dave Hunter, a longtime mason bee enthusiast, founder of the Orchard Bee Association, and owner of Crown Bee, a company that helps people raise mason bees.
- Adopt Some Bees, Score All the Honey
- Bees and Butterflies Are Going Extinct, Taking Our Food Supply with Them, Says UN Report
- Saving the Bees
F&W partner Civil Eats talked with Lightner about the book, why we should start paying attention to mason bees, and what she learned when she started raising them in her own backyard.