When the global pandemic hit, acclaimed wildlife filmmaker Martin Dohrn, locked down in his small city garden in Bristol, England, decided to turn the cameras on the wildlife in his backyard. He was particularly fascinated with the bees visiting his garden. Putting his unparalleled skills and cameras to use, he filmed more than 60 different species, from giant bumblebees to scissor bees the size of mosquitos.
But more importantly, he got to know these bees as individuals, documenting their trials and tribulations, their tragedies and their successes. The result, My Garden of a Thousand Bees, is a film that will change the way you look at bees and demand a new appreciation for these spectacular pollinators.
“As I spent more and more time in the garden, many bees became more used to me and generally easier to film. If I hadn’t spent literally every sunny day in the garden, I think I would have seen far less behavior. It got to the point where bees would land on the camera, or where I could film very close to their nest holes as they just ignored me." - Martin Dohrn, Behind the Camera: Q&A with “My Garden of a Thousand Bees” Wildlife Filmmaker Martin Dohrn
To deepen learning around the film, HHMI Tangled Bank Studios and PBS Nature developed and launched the #PlantWildflowers national campaign, with twin goals of highlighting the important role native bees and other pollinators play, and encouraging audiences to create pollinator habitats in their communities. Pollinators like native bees play a crucial role in healthy ecosystems, but face many challenges, from pesticide use to declines in their habitat and food supplies.
The good news is that it doesn’t take much to help them out. Planting native wildflowers is something everyone can do, whether it’s on a windowsill in a city, in a community garden or on a rural farm. Planting even one square foot of wildflowers — your one square foot — can make a difference and provide much needed habitat for bees and other pollinators.
So how can you get involved? This summer, the #PlantWildflowers campaign is working with leading science education and conservation organizations, PBS stations and libraries across the country to host planting events, BioBlitz activities, film screenings and more. You can get involved from wherever you are.
Events will be listed on the My Garden of a Thousand Bees website, as will additional bee-related video content, including features from Dr, Samual Ramsey — aka Dr. Buggs — a prominent science communicator and USDA entomologist.
“Each one of us can make a difference.” - Dr. Samuel Ramsey, The Power of Pollinators
And there’s much more, including formal and informal education materials and activities guides from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), citizen science challenges on the Seek app and simple instructions for running your own local BioBlitz on iNaturalist.
Want to know more? Join us on April 12 for a Citizen Science Month webinar featuring Tangled Bank Studios, The National Citizen and Community Science Library Network, and the World Wildlife Fund to learn how you can take part in the #PlantWildflowers campaign and connect to citizen science. RSVP here and become part of the buzz!
About the author
Jared Lipworth is an Emmy award-winning Executive Producer & Head of Outreach and Impact at HHMI Tangled Bank Studios. As executive producer, Jared oversees development and editorial on select films and series for HHMI Tangled Bank Studios, focusing on the power of storytelling to inspire interest in science. As Head of Outreach and Impact, Jared develops and executes national, long-term outreach initiatives, building strategic collaborations with mission-aligned partners to maximize the reach and impact of the studio’s projects.