Native bees provide vital pollination services and are an integral component of biodiversity. Concerns over declining pollinators, combined with loss of native habitats and other threats to ecosystems in Minnesota, led to an initiative to develop a list of bee species in the state.
It is important to record what bee species live in Minnesota and which habitats they prefer so we can practice effective pollinator conservation. Toward that goal, the Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund (as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources) provided funds to the Minnesota Biological Survey from 2014-2023 to document the bees of Minnesota.
This Minnesota native bee survey project produced a report describing the findings of the statewide survey. The Minnesota Biological Survey in collaboration with the University of Minnesota Department of Entomology, established a state species list of Minnesota bees. The list (now with over 500 species) will continue to be updated as surveys are completed and specimen identifications are confirmed.
This instructional video explains how and why statewide bee surveys have been conducted.
- LCCMR Project ENRTF ID: 05i. Native Bee Surveys in MN's Prairie-Grassland Habitats
Why are native bees in peril?
The health of our wild bee population is uncertain. We know very little about the diversity and distribution of native bees in Minnesota. Research elsewhere suggests that native bees have suffered serious declines as habitat loss and pesticide use have accelerated. Successful enhancement of pollinator habitat depends on baseline data about our native bees.
- Compile existing information about native bees in Minnesota
- Conduct surveys of native bees on native prairies in Minnesota
- Compare native bee fauna on native versus restored prairie-grasslands
- LCCMR Project ENRTF ID: 03-B. Native Bee Surveys in MN's Prairie-Forest Habitats
Our knowledge of native bees
Although our knowledge is improving about the diversity and distribution of Minnesota’s bees, large gaps still exist. This project builds upon the initial ENRTF-funded grant (ML14-5(i) Native Bee Pollinator Surveys in Prairie-Grassland Habitats. It will expand surveys into the Eastern Broadleaf Forest in central and southeastern Minnesota.
- Extend surveys of native bees to forested and open habitats in central and southeastern Minnesota
- Continue to develop resources and educational opportunities that promote conservation and appreciation of Minnesota’s native bees
- LCCMR Project ENRTF ID: 03s. Native Bee Survey
From past DNR surveys and several research projects in the prairie region of Minnesota, our collective understanding of the bee diversity in those ecoregions is far greater than the underserved forested regions. This project will continue to assess the current status and distribution of native bee pollinators in Minnesota by expanding surveys into the coniferous-deciduous forest region of Minnesota and facilitating interagency collaboration and public outreach on pollinators.
- Expand and enhance our knowledge of Minnesota’s native bees and their plant associations by documenting bees from Laurentian Mixed Forest habitats
- Deliver outreach programs focused on Minnesota native bee identification and monitoring
Funding for this project was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR).