Return of the Natives: How Wild Bees Will Save Our Agricultural System
Field biologists have a strange affinity for spending countless hours in the hot sun scrutinizing tiny things. You might see a bee buzzing on a flower and think, “Oh, a bee.” A biologist, though, will want to know: Is it a nonnative, domesticated honeybee? Or is it one of 4,000 bee species native to the U.S.—maybe an ultragreen sweat bee, a metallic-sheened creature that drinks human perspiration? Or perhaps a cuckoo bee, such as Bombus suckleyi, a type of bumblebee that sports yellow hair on its fourth abdominal segment, as opposed to the rare B. occidentalis, which has black or white hair in the same spot?
You also can probably name many reasons not to sit in a field counting grains of pollen, an activity that conservation biologist Claire Kremen thinks is a perfectly reasonable way to spend an afternoon. But then, you probably will not be the one to revamp the nation’s food supply and rescue our agricultural system from looming collapse. Kremen, however, just might.
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