I know, I know, Leatherleaf Mahonias are non-natives, even invasive in some of the southern states, but our cold winters keep them in check here. I have several good reasons I can justify growing them: deer don't eat them, they tolerate deep shade or sun, they tolerate wet or dry soil, and most importantly they provide late winter and early spring nectar for the bees. If not for these early blooming aliens, I don't know what else the bees would have to feed on.
I'm sure you've heard by now that honeybees are really suffering these days. Yeah, they're non-natives too but without them the US agriculture industry would collapse. I've contemplated keeping bees, but so far I'm pretty intimidated, I need to find a workshop somewhere local to see how difficult it is. I've read that so many bees are dying that new beekeepers are desperately needed to help start new hives and stabilize the population. As if colony collapse disorder and mites weren't bad enough, now a parasitic fly is posing a threat to bee populations. If you're a bee fan like myself, you can listen to a story about the parasitic fly, along with several other bee stories here from the Science Friday program on NPR.