Heirloom Tomatoes & Native Bees

Claire Baldwin

Brunswick, ME, US


I'm an illustrator, gardener, and tomato enthusiast living in Maine. I created this composition to celebrate the wonderful colors of heirloom tomatoes, and while researching tomatoes for this piece, came across some fascinating facts about bees.

Did you know that native bees are essential for pollinating tomatoes? Unlike European honey bees, native bees use “buzz pollination”, vibrating at a special frequency to release the pollen in tomato flowers. The Rusty Patched Bumble Bee is one such native pollinator, but it’s endangered, and hasn’t been spotted in Maine since 2009. My hope is that this illustration can help to get the word out about the importance of native bees for growing food, and inspire folks to do their part by planting pollinator-friendly gardens with a diverse array of native species.