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. Many flowering plant species rely on animals to some degree to help move pollen between plants.

Pollinators help us to enjoy well-balanced diets and healthy ecosystems. They provide nutritious fruits, vegetables, and nuts like blueberries, squash, and almonds. This food is important for wildlife, too. Black bears, for example, eat raspberries and blueberries that are pollinated by bumble bees. 

There are thousands of pollinator species in Minnesota, including over 400 species of native bees. Pollinators are also an integral part of functioning environments. They pollinate plants that can buffer waterways, store carbon, and provide habitat for other wildlife. Pollinators, in turn, depend on plants to complete their life cycle. Pollinator conservation provides economic benefits through improved crop pollination, and intrinsic value in beautiful, flowering landscapes. Without pollinators, our environment would look very different.

Pollinator Decline

Minnesota’s pollinators face challenges on many fronts. Honey bees (a managed species not native to North America) have experienced declines since 2006 due to multiple, interacting stressors such as habitat loss and fragementation, loss of floral resources, non-target impacts of pesticides, climate change, diseases, and parasites. Many of these challenges also affect Minnesota’s native insect pollinators. Several native species have experienced declines in population and distribution, with some once-common species now gone from the state. These declines suggest that many other pollinators are at risk, but we lack definitive data on most of these species.

Several Minnesota insect pollinator species have been listed as federally and state threatened and endangered:

 

Pollinators and the Minnesota DNR

The Minnesota DNR helps pollinators by increasing and 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 creating habitat, reducing the use of pesticides, assisting with pollinator research, educating others about pollinators, and 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!