Minnesota's Pollinators

bee flying near purple flowers


Pollination happens when wind, water, or wildlife carry pollen from the anther (male part) to the stigma (female part) of flowers. Almost 90% of the world's flowering plant species rely on animal pollinators.

Without them, we wouldn’t have some of our favorite foods. Pollinators are vital to a healthy environment. They’re also beautiful and fascinating to watch. 

Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds are needed to pollinate plants that provide Minnesota food crops such as fruits, vegetables and herbs. Some of these foods can be important for wildlife, too. Black bears, for example, eat raspberries that are pollinated by bumble bees. Honey bees and native pollinators contribute millions of dollars to Minnesota’s agricultural economy.

Pollinators play a critical role in keeping our environment healthy. They help maintain the health of the many plants that stabilize the soil and prevent erosion. These plants also buffer waterways, store carbon, and provide habitat for other wildlife. Plus, flowering landscapes are beautiful. Without pollinators, our environment would look very different.

Colony Collapse Disorder

Colony Collapse Disorder refers to the puzzling disappearance of honey bees from their hives. The term first appeared in 2006. While Colony Collapse Disorder does not affect native pollinators, many of the challenges that face honey bees also affect our native insects. These challenges include pesticide use, habitat loss, pathogens, parasites, climate change, invasive species, and other factors that influence Minnesota's pollinators today.

Pollinators and the Minnesota DNR

The Minnesota Legislature passed the Pollinator Habitat Bill (H.F. 976) in 2013. In 2014, the DNR established Pollinator Best Management Practices and Habitat Restoration Guidelines to manage and enhance pollinator habitat on DNR-managed lands and on state-funded prairie restoration projects. Also included as part of the best management practices guidelines are Grant & Contract Language as well as Conservation Grazing Dewormer/Insecticide Guidelines.

The Minnesota Biological Survey is producing a state species list of Minnesota bees. This survey of the native bees of Minnesota's grasslands and forests began in 2014. Currently, 432 bee species have been identified. The Minnesota Biological Survey has added 366 state records since the last species list publication in 1919.

How you can help pollinators

You can help pollinators, whether by creating habitat, reducing the use of pesticides, conserving resources, assisting with pollinator research, educating others about pollinators, or taking community action.

  • Plant a variety of flowers, especially those that are native to your area.
  • Keep your garden blooming all season long; choose plants that provide pollen and nectar in the spring, summer and fall.
  • Provide nesting sites by allowing dead branches and logs to remain, leaving bare earth for ground-nesting insects, or installing bee nesting blocks.
  • Reduce the use of pesticides.
  • Become a citizen scientist and help researchers collect data about pollinators and their habitat.
  • Tell your friends and family about pollinators and inspire them to take action!