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Be a pollinator champion

Help researchers study rare and declining pollinators

Elaine Evans, Extension Educator

Volunteer with a male bumble bee. Males can't sting!
Photo: Jen Larson
Are you aware that bees and other pollinators play a crucial role in keeping food on our plates and on the plates of countless other creatures who depend on the plants they pollinate? 

Have you planted more flowers to help pollinators and taken other steps to make your yard more pollinator friendly?  

If so, you may be ready for the next step: help us learn more about rare pollinators by volunteering to monitor their populations. The more rare a species becomes, the more difficult it is for researchers to find the information needed to protect them. 

Here are three ways you can help monitor rare pollinators this summer...

1.       Join the Minnesota Bumble Bee Survey

Volunteer with bees in a jar
Photo: Elaine Evans
The Minnesota Bumble Bee Survey has been monitoring bumble bee communities in the Twin Cities area for 12 years. Volunteers of all ages scoop bumble bees into little jars while the bees are on flowers. It's easier than it sounds. Experts identify the bees, mark them, and release them. 

We usually see a few rusty patched bumble bees as well as other rare bumble bees! Mark you calendar with our dates and show up to help   (just check on Facebook first for last minute weather plans).

2.      Take photos of bumble bees and share them with

Rusty patched bumble bee on boneset
Photo: Heather Holm
Contribute bumble bee photos to Bumble Bee Watch with the iPhone app or through the website. All bees are verified by experts. 

Through bumble bee watch, we have found several new locations for the endangered rusty patched bumble bee as well as the first record of the rare Bombus frigidus in MN since 1939!

3.      Find or plant milkweed and monitor for monarchs with the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project

5th instar monarch caterpillar
 on swamp milkweed
Photo: Candy Sarikonda
Monarchs are on the decline too! Help us better understand the distribution and abundance of breeding monarchs and use that knowledge to inform and inspire monarch conservation by training to monitor monarchs and milkweed.

All these opportunities give researchers important data, give you with a chance to learn more about the biology of these important creatures, all while connecting with nature on lovely summer days.

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