Worth Defending

Bees, © Bob Peterson

© Bob Peterson


Far from a bumbler, the bee is a productive pollinator with a reputation for diligence. That’s fortunate for us because close to 75 percent of flowering plants rely on insects to help them produce fruit and seeds. 

And none does it better than a bee. That’s because most have fuzzy, feathery body hairs that carry an electrostatic charge to snag pollen. It’s not intentional. As bees feed, court or gather nectar, pollen sticks to their bodies and rubs off accidentally as they buzz from flower to flower, pollinating on the fly. 


Agriculture, forestry, mining and urban development have all done a number on bees. But you can help by:

Protecting, enhancing or restoring native wildflower foraging habitat.

Providing nesting sites (untilled, unmulched, partially bare ground with leaf pieces or mud for nesting materials).

Avoiding pesticides.

Advocating for bees with neighbors and local policymakers.

We rely on pollinators like the humble bumble bee for a full third of our food supply. Wildlife—from songbirds to grizzly bears—rely on them even more. Without them, we’d have no apples, blueberries, chocolate, coffee or orange juice, to name a few delicacies we’d have to forgo.

Given the importance of bees, their dramatic decline in recent decades is particularly alarming. Native bees from California to Maine have been disappearing because of habitat loss or degradation, pesticides and the spread of diseases and parasites. Massive honey bee die-offs—coined “colony collapse disorder” after it was first noticed in 2006—still have scientists puzzled and searching for a solution.

To keep the world abuzz and blooming, we must protect these vital pollinators.

More Articles from Summer 2012

Patience, patience, patience. That is what James Yule—grand prize winner of Defenders of Wildlife’s 2012 photo contest—says was the key to his success in photographing this baby bear cub riding on its mother’s back.
One year after feds strip protections, states go all-out against wolves.
Bison Calves Born at Fort Peck roundup
Defenders calls for changes in condor country, where lead poisoning continues to threaten these majestic birds.
Federally protected coastal habitat is no match for global warming
Gliding with orange and black outstretched wings, the monarch butterfly is a lucky omen that signals summer is on its way.
Throughout my life, I have felt a keen sense of wonder for the array of wildlife around me and the role that it plays in keeping our planet alive and functioning—from the iconic grizzly bear that keeps prey in check and eats his weight many times over in insects