With the news filled with stories of bees struggling to survive, “Pollination: Evolving Miracles” at the Atrium Art Gallery in Lewiston could not be timelier. Here is an opportunity to connect with the creatures that keep the flowers blooming, the fruit trees bearing and summer days humming and buzzing.

And it’s not just bees: moths, butterflies, hornets, wasps, fungus gnats and other conveyors of pollen get their due in this diverse and often ecological exhibition featuring 29 artists from across Maine and beyond.

The work ranges from natural history studies to abstract-organic riffs. Bernd Heinrich from Weld, an authority on bird behavior and insect physiology, offers precise watercolor and graphite renderings of moths and bees, and a few of the flowers they frequent. Most remarkable is a bumblebee in flight encircled by six studies of a carrion beetle in the act of changing color, to mimic the bee and thereby be protected from birds fearful of being stung.

In a similar vein, Deer Isle artist Elena Kubler traces the life cycle of the honeybee through six phases, starting with “Pollen Trail 1, Cells.” These graphite and colored pencil pieces are on vellum, the favored surface of natural history artists of earlier centuries. The stunning Bombus ternarius in Centaurea captures the orange-banded bumblebee practicing “buzz pollination” on a cornflower (these bees use the same technique with Maine wild blueberries).

At the other end of the spectrum are two abstractions by Sara Crisp of Cumberland. Crisp, who was featured in “New Natural History” at the Portland Museum of Art in 2008, has consistently drawn on nature to inform her abstract-organic imagery. Here the materials employed provide the tie to the theme: wax and lily and tulip pollen.

Kathleen Florance of Rockport is comfortable in representational and abstract modes. Two large butterfly pieces in relief ink and lithographic crayon are among the stand-outs in the show, but don’t miss her “Butterfly Musings” from a series of pastel and graphite inventions that evoke the dynamics of the colorful winged insects.        

For making the connection between art and natural history, Robyn Holman, curator of the Atrium Art Gallery, is, well, the bee’s knees. She has mounted exhibitions devoted to forests, birds, vernal pools and invertebrates. Next spring Holman will present “Ant Farm,” a collaborative exhibition inspired by leafcutter ants featuring Colleen Kinsella, Vivien Russe, Dorothy Schwartz and Rebecca Goodale (who is represented in the current show by several inventive silkscreen prints).

A common factor of Holman-curated shows: being introduced to new artists. Among the revelations here are exquisite digital photographs by Fred Michel of Westbrook; a handsome wall sculpture, “The Beekeeper’s Wife,” made of cast plaster, wasp paper, gouache and wood by Kimberly Calas of Brooks; striking chromogenic color prints by Angela Devenney of Bath; and Blue Hill artist Samantha Jones’s mixed media “The Pollen Path,” which brought to mind the freeform sculpture of Nancy Graves.

Add poems about pollen by Michael Waters and Anne Stevenson, a selection of ornament artist Peggy Johnson’s signature insect pins and Dan Dowd’s homemade homage to the sex-changing Jack-in-the-pulpit, and you have a truly multi-dimensional display.

“Pollination” does double duty: a showcase of engaging art that also heightens our awareness of issues facing the natural world. Triple actually: we come away with our sense of wonder restored. 

“Pollination: Evolving Miracles” runs through June 7 at the Atrium Art Gallery, USM—Lewiston-Auburn College. Information at www.usm.maine.edu/atriumgallery.

Carl Little’s most recent book is Nature & Culture: The Art of Joel Babb (University Press of New England).