News and Notes

The Fascination and Importance of Backyard Bees

“If we were to wipe out insects alone on this planet, the rest of life and humanity with it would mostly disappear from the land. Within a few months.” – E.O. Wilson

Data Play: North American Native Bees
Bees are important native insects around the world including in the US. Help your students reset their “bee meter” from just a honey bee, which is domesticated and introduced, to see the importance and threats to our important native bees, starting with diverse bumblebees. Explore this concept with the Data Play classroom activity.

Flower Preferences of Bees: Phenomenal Images and Data Play
Introduce students to important ecological functions that arise from interactions between species, in this case bees and their preferred flowers. Students make fundamental observations of different native bee species and their flower preferences and form questions. Then they’re challenged to extend their observations with mapping skills. By the end of this visually engaging lesson, students will be able to make form and function connections, and relate behavior and food choice to ecological functions and species range maps.

A Conversation with Award-winning Filmmaker Martin Dohrn
Martin Dohrn talks about his amazing bees with Dennis Liu, the Half-Earth Project’s VP of Education, sharing the wonder and joy of the biodiversity he experiences in his own backyard, aided with just a few native plants and an openness to seeing bee behavior patterns.

Learn more about Martin’s bees through his film My Garden of a Thousand Bees, a fascinating journey into the lives of more than 60 native bee species he can find in his own small urban wild patch in Bristol, England. Using lenses and techniques he’s pioneered, he gets up close and personal with species that range from Britain’s largest bumblebees to scissor bees the size of a mosquito.

Map of Life: A Tool for Biodiversity Education
The Map of Life team at Yale, provide important biodiversity data for the Half-Earth Map. MOL is a great place to find maps for the distribution of thousands of species, including native bees worldwide. For example, go to, and under search for species select Bumblebees from the dropdown. Type in rusty-patched to see a range map and information for Bombus affinis,

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