Bees of California: A New Book by UCSC Students

The cover of Bees of California

As of May 1, Bees of California is available at the Norris Center for $20. If you can't make it to the Norris Center to buy your copy, Bees of California is available on Amazon for $23.99. Order your copy now!


Two bees on a flower

Wild bees provide pollination but are gravely endangered. This book uses art and science to catalog the amazing diversity of bees in California. Over 20 stunning full color illustrations and haikus were contributed by up-and-coming young UCSC artists and poets. The book also describes bee ecology, decline, and how to support wild bees in your backyard.

Bees provide food through the simple but essential act of pollination. There are thousands of bee species in North America, but bees are declining at an alarming rate. The "Bees of California: art, science and poetry" book is a collaborative response to this tragedy as well as an appreciation of the beauty and importance of bees. The ecological, taxonomic, and artistic work in this book is based on real-world research but paints the problem of bee diversity andA bee on a ceanothus bush bee population decline with art and poetry. The book holds a magnifying glass to several different bee families commonly found in California. It also highlights the most important concepts around bee decline and bee behavior, including nesting habits, floral preferences, and social behavior. Cataloguing our pollinators is important because bee populations worldwide are declining. Taken alone, neither art, poetry, nor science do justice to the insect upon which our life depends. But together, they offer an an homage to California’s bees - their shapes, colors, behaviors, and favorite flowers.

History of the Project

A really sweet looking black and red waspThis book was inspired by the illustrations of Summer-Solstice Thomas. In 2015, Summer joined our research team at UC Santa Cruz as a high school intern. With her infectious love of bees, she showed us that drawing insects was a form of both study and tribute. Many others at the university came together to help make this book a reality. The art and poetry featured in the book were contributed by over 30 students and instructors at UCSC, spanning multiple disciplines, ages and backgrounds. The book was designed by undergraduate student Sofia Vermeulen, who worked closely with graduate students Hamutahl Cohen and Juniper Harrower who co-edited and spearheaded the book project. 

Special Thanks

A special thank you to art instructors who lent us their class time (Mattias Lanas and Courtney Kersten) and to the staff and faculty of the Norris Natural History Center at UCSC (Chris Lay and Karen Holl). This project also would not be possible without generous support from the UCSC IDEA Hub, a campus wide program to support social and creative student-led initiatives. This book was published by SymbioStudio. 

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