Tomorrow, May 26th, is the opening of "Wild at Heart: Keep Wildlife in the Wild," the endangered species benefit that Andrew Hosner and I are co-curating at Thinkspace. 20% of the proceeds of the show will go to Born Free USA to help threatened wildlife. Hope to see you there!
Bumblebee "Nightlight" (detail)
There are over 250 species of Bumblebees in the world, all with soft, fuzzy coats in dramatic patterns of black, yellow, red, orange, white and pink. Bumblebees are not aggressive, and will usually only sting in defense of their nest, or if they are hurt. Like their relatives, the honeybees, bumblebees feed on nectar and gather pollen to feed their young. Unlike honeybees, they do not store honey, because only the queen lives through the winter. Upon waking alone from her winter hibernation, the queen builds her nest, usually in a hole in the ground, preparing wax pots for food storage and wax cells to lay eggs in. When the larvae hatch and the young bees mature, they leave the nest and mate. The following spring, the surviving queens start the process all over again.
Bumblebees are good pollinators, and are often used in agriculture. Declining bumblebee numbers may change native vegetation drastically, as plants that rely on them for pollination could die out completely. Their greatest threats are the widespread use of pesticides and introduced diseases from commercial bees. Dozens of bee species have quietly disappeared over the past 30 years, including the Shrill Carder Bee, Cockerell’s Bumblebee and the Rusty-patched Bumblebee, all of which are on the brink of extinction. Efforts are underway to add Northern California’s Franklin’s Bumblebee to the Endangered Species List, in hopes that recognition of the bee as endangered might also raise the alarm about all of the other bee species that are in decline.