泰勒獎包含了20萬美元獎金與一面金質獎牌，表揚在環境科學研究中具有遠見與貢獻的人士。該獎項是由農民保險公司創辦人約翰‧泰勒(John Tyler)和妻子艾莉絲‧泰勒(Alice Tyler)所創立。專門表彰對環境護育具有卓越貢獻、讓世人得以受益的人士，是最早的國際環境獎項之一。
2007年，她建立了 BeeSpotter website，蒐集了美國境內蜜蜂的資訊，包含了物種多樣性與豐富度。這個網站也協助民眾辨識當地的蜜蜂種類，民眾也可以將蜜蜂的照片與相關地理資訊上傳到網頁。
「貝倫鮑姆教授對於拓展昆蟲學領域的知識，與解釋其重要性的貢獻，遠超越其他科學家。」泰勒獎的執行委員長兼貝勒大學(Baylor University)生物學教授歐文琳(Owen Lind)指出，「她是位蜜蜂專家，也深入了解蜜蜂族群數量減少的幕後原因，因此成了媒體、決策者與同儕間的絕佳蜜蜂專業資訊來源。」
Bee expert May Berenbaum, who was afraid of insects as a child, has been awarded the 2011 Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement for her original work on the science behind the bee population collapse and on the evolutionary relationship between insects and plants.
The Tyler Prize, consisting of a $200,000 cash prize and a gold medal, honors exceptional foresight and dedication in the environmental sciences.
Since 1973 when John Tyler, co-founder of Farmers Insurance Group, and his wife, Alice Tyler, established the prize as one of the world's first international environmental awards, it has been given to those who confer great benefit upon humankind through environmental restoration and achievement.
"I'm absolutely humbled to receive the Tyler Prize," said Berenbaum, the head of the entomology department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "All of my scientific heroes are Tyler Prize alumni."
Dr. Berenbaum's interest in bees and other insects grew out of her wish to overcome her childhood fear.
"I was afraid of insects and didn't fall in love with them until college. I placed out of introductory biology and the only course that fit my schedule was Terrestrial Arthropods, and I figured, fear stems from ignorance, so here I go," recalls Berenbaum. "That's one reason I do so much outreach and public understanding because I know what it's like to fear insects."
Berenbaum's research has also been central to understanding the decline of bee populations in North America and around the world, known as colony collapse disorder.
Through a combination of genetic analysis and experimentation, Berenbaum has shown that plants evolve to create natural defenses, like chemical toxins to ward off pests, and that insects in turn evolve to overcome these defenses.
She says that understanding this coevolution, or "arms race," between plants and insects is fundamental to a better understanding of pesticide resistance, insects and genetically modified crops.
In 1984, Berenbaum founded the annual Insect Fear Film Festival, a popular campus event that combines insect horror movies with basic education about the creatures portrayed in the films.
In 2007, she initiated the BeeSpotter website, a tool for collecting information about the abundance and diversity of wild bees in the United States. The website helps people identify local wild bees and post photographs and enter geographic information about them.
Berenbaum also founded the campus Pollinatarium, a free-standing museum dedicated to broadening public understanding of flowering plants and their pollinators.
"Someone has got to stick up for the little guy," said Berenbaum. "This world, this planet, would not function without insects. Our lives would be miserable without insects and people don't realize that."
"Professor Berenbaum has done more to advance the field of entomology and explain its significance than nearly any other researcher today," said Tyler Prize Executive Committee Chair Owen Lind, professor of biology at Baylor University. "Her expertise on bees and the causes behind declining bee populations has further positioned her as a leading resource for the media, policymakers and peers."