Rewilding Your Land: Blessing of the Bees - Sam Droege - TEDx Washington Square

TEDx Talks     Sam Droege  

Sam Droege shares the magical world of native bee species, helping us understand the threats that face these unique populations and what we as humans can do to live more consciously and in harmony with these critical pollinators. 

SAM DROEGE is an author and biologist at the U.S. Geological Survey. He's an international expert on both birds and pollinator species. Sam has produced many grassroots programs: Bioblitz, Frogwatch USA, Cricket Crawl that enlist volunteers to inventory local flora and fauna. Currently he is developing an inventory and monitoring program for native bees, online identification guides for North American bees at, and with Jessica Zelt reviving the North American Bird Phenology Program.

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at

The Buzz About Bumblebees: National Wildlife Federation

The Buzz at OSU   By Denise Ellsworth   4/15/14

Across North America and beyond, bumblebees are in trouble, but gardeners can help these critical pollinators. 

TO BIOLOGIST SAM DROEGE, they are “the teddy bears of the bee world.” Fat, fuzzy and occasionally clumsy fliers, “bumblebees are cute,” says Droege, who heads the U.S. Geological Survey’s Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab. “People project emotions on them”—an assertion backed by the many children’s books and songs featuring bumblebees.

All members of the genus Bombus, the world’s roughly 250 bumblebee species are critical pollinators. In natural ecosystems, bees are by far the most important pollinators of native plants, and the insects are essential to producing more than a third of the foods and beverages humans consume—an industry worth hundreds of billions of dollars annually. Bumblebees are particularly major players: Because their large bodies allow them to generate heat, the insects can fly earlier and later in the day and in colder weather than most bee species, including honeybees.

Bumblebees are also strong flyers. Powered by contractions of the thorax, or midsection, the insects’ wings beat 130 or more times per second. That prowess, combined with their size, allows bumblebees to perform a unique service, “buzz pollination” (vibrating flowers until they release pollen), that helps plants produce more fruit. And bumblebees’ significance as pollinators has been growing in recent years as managed colonies of European honeybees decline.

But it turns out that bumblebees are in trouble, too. In North America, four once-common, widespread Bombus species have vanishedfrom large portions of their former ranges. A fifth may already be extinct...


Faces of Bees, Flies and Friends: Photos

Discovery News  March 7, 2014

The U.S. Geological Survey is posting photos of insects on its Flickr page, offering a macro look at this hidden world.

This wild bee (Hoplitis fulgida), a female from Grand Tetons National Park, was collected as part of a study of climate change. Most species in this genus are black , but a few, like this one, are as the Latin in name implies, glittering jewels.

Sam Droege/USGS  
View Photos

Beautiful, Intimate Portrait of Bees

National Geographic  (Sunday Stills - Issue 9)  Photographs by Sam Droege     1/2/14

Researchers take advanatage of technology photography developed by the U.S. Army to capture beautiful portraits of bees native to North America.

Sam Droege and colleagues at the U.S. Geological Survey began to inventory all the bee species in North America in 2001. This was partly because the insects are so important to the agriculture industry. “Almost all the fruits and nuts, and a lot of the vegetable varieties, that we eat require some insect—usually bees—for pollination,” he explains.

Most of the natives are overlooked because “a lot of them are super tiny,” Droege says. “The bulk of the bees in the area are about half the size of a honeybee.” They also go unnoticed because they don’t sting, he adds. They quietly go about their business gathering pollen from flowers in gardens, near sand dunes, or on the edges of parks.

Read and View more beautiful images of bees...

The Secret Life of Native Bees

Ensia   By Enrique Gili   12/19/13

The Secret Life of Native Bees

As colony collapse disorder takes its toll on honeybees, native bees draw attention as an insurance policy for future food security.

Over the last decade biologists, citizen scientists and others have fanned out across the United States and parts of Latin America to detect the presence of native bees in the landscape. It’s an effort by the U.S. Geological Survey to get a sense of the overall health and status of native bees, some 4,000 species of which are known to...


The Wild Ones   By  Enrique Gili   12/19/13

                   Photography by the USGS Native Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab Program

Established in 2004 by the U.S. Geological Survey, the Bee Monitoring and Inventory Lab and its director, Sam Droege, were tasked with creating long-range surveys of bee populations to determine whether native bees are in decline. “We’re lacking a lot of data,” Droege says. Determining the health and status of native bee populations, though, depends on the ability to identify them in the first place.

So Droege created a database that currently contains approximately 1,400 high-resolution images (though more are continually being added) of bees and other species they mix with in the wild that biologists, citizen scientists and others have sent the USGS. The images were made using a macro lens at the bee lab in Maryland, creating images remarkable in detail that are used in guides and for identification purposes.

To read more about the work of the Bee Monitoring and Inventory Lab and others, read “The Secret Life of Native Bees” at Ensia, and to see more images from the USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab database, go to Sam Droege’s Flickr page.

Related article and amazing pictures of bees at Artcentron.