We are celebrating National Pollinator Week with features of the efforts to understand and support our wild bees.

Heather Harvey started Bees Gone Wild in West Lafayette, Indiana to encourage people to adopt native bees into their gardens, but she’s discovering that most people need basic information about pollination and the role bees play in producing our food before they can even begin to consider setting up a wild bee nest.

“I admit I imagined I would be standing at the farmers market selling bees and supplies to knowledgeable people. In actuality, I offer one-on-one presentations about what bees are, what they do, and how we can support them. I don’t sell so much as I inform.”

This information is in great demand and Heather’s person-to-person approach appears to be popular. At last week’s West Lafayette farmers market, she gave what she calls her “bee spiel” about every 15 minutes during the 3 ½ hour event.

“People are very concerned about what’s happening to the bees. And while the internet makes it possible for us to share basic information and great discoveries, not everyone learns well by reading a web page,” she said. “People like to touch and observe and ask questions, so I give them that opportunity.”

Heather lets visitors look inside bee nesting tubes to see the developing larvae, she has specimens of various bees and wasps, and, she has lots of photos to help people identify the bees in their backyards. Most importantly, she never laughs at a question.

“There are no dumb questions. The quickest way to turn someone off to science is to suggest they aren’t smart enough to understand it. I start simple and move on to the complex. If you want to set up a mason bee nesting house, I can help you, but if you just want to know the difference between bees and wasps? I can help you with that, too.”

Heather gives presentations on solitary bees at garden shows, extension clubs, and other local events and makes garden visits to homeowners interested in supporting wild bees. She is assisting with the creation of the Purdue University Bee Farm Garden, and she sells bees and supplies, including Crown Bees merchandise, through her website. You can contact her at heather@beesgonewild.net.

Heather Harvey at her Bees Gone Wild booth