Matthew Shepherd on Planting to Feed Bees.
Expanding the habitat of an essential pollinator through garden choices.
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Matthew’s career began in England where he established a successful community-based conservation program in Essex and helped to create Samphire Hoe, an award-winning nature park. He has also worked with local communities and government agencies in Kenya to improve the management of Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, on the coast north of Mombasa. He has created and maintained gardens that provide for insects and other wildlife everywhere he has lived, a passion that began when he learned gardening at his mother’s side.
After marrying an American and moving to Oregon, Matthew was working for the Xerces Society at the vanguard of a new effort to protect pollinators. In the past 15 years, he has collaborated with people from all walks of life to promote awareness about, and protection of, pollinator insects, especially native bees. Matthew is author of numerous articles and other publications, including Attracting Native Pollinators (Storey Publishing, 2011) and Gardening for Butterflies (Timber Press, 2016).
In this podcast: Greg chats with Matthew of the Xerces Society to learn more about their latest book titled 100 Plants to Feed the Bees, as well as some of the projects the Society has been working on. Matthew’s story of how he got to work for the Xerces Society is a little world tour and then he helps explain more about different bees and what they need.
Listen in and learn about:
- His study of how people influence the landscape and environment
- Growing up in Britain he was influenced by the history all around him
- What the Xerces Society is and why they focus on invertebrates
- The world’s dependence on these lifeforms
- That an area which might have 100 species of birds, will have 1,000 species of insects
- The 40th birthday of the Xerces Society and how it got started
- Why it is so important to keep insects and how they are essential to all other animal life
- 3,600 species of native bees in America
- Some of the programs in play at the Society and how they are working to protect insect species
- Their work for bees and butterflies through habitat protections and expansion
- Their fight against neonicotinoids and other pesticides
- Why pollinators are so important
- Why the most important single group of pollinators are bees
- Where honeybees originate from,
- Some of the native bee species in North America
- A caution against killing an unknown bug in your garden space
- How to support bees through growing plants that they can feed from
- Matthew’s favorite plant – the Aster
- The Xerces Society’s new book called 100 Plants to Feed the Bees: Provide a Healthy Habitat to Help Pollinators Thrive
As well as:
- His failure – times he managed sites while doing hands-on conservation work and he had a site with ant mounds and the land owners’ choice to raze the site, and then how he helped them managed to get control over the land
- His success – His trip to Kenya to bring sustainable management of the forest and bring ecotourism to help the forest and neighboring villages, but while expecting to be the junior member of a small team but ended up being the whole team and he really did help make a difference
- His advice – Never give up, retain and remember what’s important to you, keep hold of the things that are the core of who you are, and keep working to move things in the direction you want to see them go.
Matthew’s Book recommendations:
Seeing Green: The Politics of Ecology Explained by Jonathan Porrit
How to reach the Xerces Society: