This book began way back in 2010, when my children and I started volunteering to help maintain the Snetsinger Butterfly Garden, a public garden for pollinators in my hometown.
As we sweated under the hot sun—pulling weeds, dead-heading spent flowers—I was drawn to the colorful butterflies flitting by. But the expert gardeners who ran the place talked mostly of bees: the many kinds, their importance as pollinators, and hints that bees were in decline.
Bees came to my attention again a few years later, in the fall of 2016. I was researching The Monarchs Are Missing: A Butterfly Mystery, a book that grew out of my work at the pollinator garden. As I carried out interviews for the book, many of the experts I spoke with wanted to talk bees, not butterflies. Again and again, they pointed out that bees were in trouble, too. And they didn't mean managed honey bees, which were getting plenty of press at that time. They meant wild bees, native bees. I decided to investigate.
This book tells the story of what I learned. It dives into the world of wild bees, the ones that are pollinating the bulk of our food. It traces the history of bees, all the way back to the dinosaurs, and explains why bees are so important to us and the world we live in.
The book explores what scientists know about bee declines: what's behind the declines and what questions remain unanswered. The list of culprits include parasites, pesticides, climate change, and habitat loss.
The book ends on a hopeful note, explaining in detail what everyone can do to help bees.
In a starred review, Booklist calls it "well-balanced and objective… An important resource for all libraries."
Where Have All the Bees Gone? is a Junior Library Selection. It releases February 4th from Twenty-First Century Books.