Mother Earth News Blogs > Nature and Environment

Nature and Environment

News about the health and beauty of the natural world that sustains us.


Bees in Your Backyard

bees in your backyard header

About half a year ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Olivia Messinger-Carril, who co-authored, The Bees in your Backyard, published by Princeton Press.  She had recently moved to New Mexico and I was ecstatic to meet a fellow bee enthusiast.  We were cyber-introduced through a beekeeping acquaintance in Ohio.

As fate ordained it, I had been asked to set up a pollinator exhibit for the New Mexico State University Alcalde Sustainable Agriculture Research Center's Field Day. I knew I had to invite her to join me at the Field Day.  And so we shared a space; me with beekeeping info and a honey tasting bar on one side, and her with some native pollinators specimens and her new book,

The Bees in Your Backyard, on the other.

olivia  melanie pollinator exhibit nmsu Aug 2016 web

She has since been awarded a grant to ID native pollinators at the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument site. I hope to be joining her on some of her pollinator ID trips this year! 

The Bees in Your Backyard provides an engaging introduction to the roughly 4,000 different bee species found in the United States and Canada, dispelling common myths about native solitary bees while offering essential tips for telling them apart.  The book features more than 900 stunning color photos of bees living all around us — in our gardens and parks, along nature trails, and in the wild spaces between. It describes their natural history, including where they live, how they gather food, and their role as pollinators.

There is even a full chapter on how to attract them to your own backyard. Ideal for amateur naturalists and experts alike, it gives detailed accounts of every bee family and genus in North America, describing key identification features, distributions, diets, nesting habits, and more.  This book provides the most comprehensive and accessible guide to all bees found in the United States and Canada. Among the photos of bees visiting flowers are macro-photos that demonstrate how to distinguish between different kinds of bees.

This book is written by Dr. Joseph S. Wilson, who lives in Utah where he is an assistant professor of biology at Utah State University.  He has been studying bees and wasps for more than a decade. 

Dr. Olivia Carril lives in northern New Mexico.  She has studied bees in deserts, on mountain tops, on Greek Islands, and in swamps for twenty years.  Of particular interest to her is the relationship shared by bees and the plants they visit.

The Bees in your Backyard


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.