The first question I get when I tell people I'm an ecologist is always the same: "What's happening to the bees?" The attention given to colony collapse among the European honeybees, which are bred commercially and used in agriculture, is heartening. But the public should be far more concerned about our native bees, which depend on native plants for both food (nectar, pollen from flowers) and nesting habitat (many nest in the hollow stems of old twigs).
Which is why this article I just read rang true: http://www.wired.com/2015/04/youre-worrying-wrong-bees/. It's always great to hear that others are paying attention!
Honeybees are managed. They will pull through. But as described in the Wired article, native bees are losing habitat quickly. Each time we lose a native bee, we risk losing plants that need them for pollination. Native bees contribute to crop pollination more than managed honeybees globally. For the sake of flowers, for the sake of fruits, for the sake of your backyard vegetable garden, support our native bees.
How? Use a diversity of native plants in landscapes. Use annuals. Use wildflowers. Use plants with resins and oils (used for nest construction by bees). Maximize biomass. Don't be too fastidious about cleaning up twigs (or at least keep them onsite, so the bee larvae inside can have a chance).
Native bees want our landscapes to look more wild and natural. If we want to help rebuild these native species, we may have to move the line between nature and conventional landscaping a bit more toward the nature side. Come join us. Let's reimagine landscaping.