In order to set seed and reproduce, many plant species rely on animal pollinators to move pollen from flower to flower. There are thousands of insect pollinator species in Minnesota, including over 400 species of native bees. Bees are the most efficient pollinators because their bodies are designed to collect and store pollen to feed to their young. Other flower visiting insects and hummingbirds incidentally move pollen among flowers as they forage.
Pollinators are integral parts of functioning environments. The plants they pollinate provide food and habitat for other animals, buffer waterways, and store carbon. Without pollinators, we would not have many nutritious fruits, vegetables, and nuts like blueberries, squash, and almonds. Pollinator conservation provides economic benefits through improved crop pollination, and intrinsic value in beautiful, flowering landscapes.
Minnesota’s pollinators face challenges on many fronts, including habitat loss, pesticides, climate change, diseases, and parasites. Some native species, like the rusty patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis) and Dakota skipper (Hesperia dacotae), have experienced drastic declines in population and distribution. Several Minnesota insect pollinator species have been listed as threatened, endangered, or species of concern, but for many others we lack data on population trends.
Pollinators and the Minnesota DNR
The Minnesota DNR helps pollinators by:
- conserving prairies, forests, and wetlands,
- improving public lands that support pollinators,
- conducting education and outreach, and
- carrying out research and monitoring.
How you can help pollinators
You can help pollinators by:
- Planting a variety of flowers native to your area that bloom in the spring, summer, and fall.
- Providing nesting sites by allowing dead branches, stems, and logs to remain, and leaving bare earth for ground-nesting insects.
- Reducing the use of pesticides.
- Allowing native flowering plants to grow along roadsides and drainage ditches.
- Becoming a community scientist to help researchers collect data about pollinators and their habitats.
- Telling your friends and family about pollinators and how to help them!
- General Pollinator Information
- The University of Minnesota Bee Lab
- The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation
- Pollinator-friendly Planting Resources
- Native plant suppliers, landscapers, and restoration consultants for Minnesota
- Plant lists from Minnesota photographer/landscaper Heather Holm
- Plants for Bees and other Pollinators from the University of Minnesota
- Pollinator Toolbox and Lawns to Legumes program from the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources
- Minnesota DNR Pollinator Best Management Practices and Habitat Restoration Guidelines
- Minnesota DNR's printable booklet for large-scale pollinator habitat projects (formatted for two-sided printing on 8.5" x 14" paper)
- Community Science Opportunities
- Minnesota Bumble Bee Atlas from the University of Minnesota
- Integrated Monarch Monitoring Project from Monarch Joint Venture (national)
- Monarch Watch (international)
- Bumble Bee Watch (national)
- Backyard Bumble Bee Count (national)
- The Great Sunflower Project (national)
- Wild Bee Identification
- Bee ID from the University of Minnesota
- Books from Minnesota photographer/landscaper Heather Holm
- The Bee Short Course for Community Scientists
Questions about Pollinators
Christina Locke, Pollinator Conservation Coordinator, 651-259-5074