Bees are a hot topic right now, and rightly so.
Bee populations are falling at an alarming rate, which isn’t cool when you consider how essential they are to our food system. The use of pesticides and monocultures of commodity crops (like wheat and corn) that sterilize the landscape of biodiversity are just two of the contributing factors to their disappearance.
Last summer I attended a Pollinators workshop put on by the good people at TheStop.org. The presenter that day was artist and bee enthusiast, Stephen Humphrey. He explained the differences between solitary and communal bees and how important it was to encourage their presence in our yards through the help of bee houses and by growing native plants.
I was especially delighted to learn that a certain emerald wasp-like insect I had photographed in my garden (see above) was in fact a species of solitary bee called Agapostemon. In fact, it’s one of Stephen’s favourite species and it’s not hard to see why. They’re absolutely gorgeous!
Stephen is part of an ecologically-minded artist’s group called Resonating Bodies. I recommend checking out their bee house installations!
Flash forward 6 months later, and there I was, illustrating solitary bees for the Canadian Wildlife Federation’s kid’s publication, WILD. (Thanks to AD, Steve Balaban)
The step by step guide teaches kids how to make their own bee house out of the simplest of materials: drilling holes into pieces of wood. Here’s another way of making a bee house I spotted at Toronto Blooms, using clustered bamboo sticks.
The construction of bee houses combined with the replanting of native wildflowers is one small step we can all take to help improve our bee numbers.
I plan on making one for my backyard and I’ll be sure to post an update on how it turns out!