Over the past 10 years, we've heard a lot about the shocking disappearance of honey bees. However, many people don't realize that North America is home to approximately 4,000 species of native bees that are irreplaceable pollinators with an extraordinary beauty all their own. In 2013, natural history photographer Clay Bolt set out on an adventure to meet, photograph and tell the stories of many of these beautiful, beneficial insects. Soon he came across a specimen of a rusty-patched bumble bee in a scientific collection and learned about its tragic decline. Determined to use his photography to create more awareness about the insect's demise, he worked with partners to create a film, which he then shared across the country on behalf of the bee, from small venues to a rare opportunity to present it on Capitol Hill. In March, 2017 these efforts paid off, and the rusty-patched bumble bee became the first species of native North American bee to receive protection under the Endangered Species Act. During this engaging presentation, Clay will share some his favorite images and stories about our beautiful native bees and what we can all do to make a difference in their lives. One thing is for certain: you'll never look at bees the same way again!
Clay Bolt is a Natural History and Conservation Photographer specializing in macro and close-up photography with an emphasis on invertebrates, reptiles and amphibians. His work has been featured by National Geographic, Scientific American, and BBC Wildlife. He is president of the North American Nature Photography Association and is an Associate Fellow in the International League of Conservation Photographers. He is the co-founder of the international nature photography project Meet Your Neighbours (meetyourneighbours.net), which reconnects people with wildlife within their own communities, and Backyard Naturalists, whose mission is to inspire an appreciation of the natural world in children through science, art and technology. Clay’s current project focuses on North America's native bees and the important roles they play in our lives. He was a leading voice in the fight to list the rusty-patched bumble bee as a protected species under the Endangered Species Act.