Pollinator Conservation Resources – California Region

The pollinator resources found on this page support habitat projects in California.

View all the regions in North America for other pollinator resources. For questions, comments, or to suggest additional content, please contact Eric Mader, Xerces Assistant Pollinator Program Director.

For locally native wildflower seed to use in pollinator habitat restoration projects (including USDA-administered farm conservation programs), please see our Pollinator Conservation Seed Mixes. Xerces-approved seed mixes are free of systemic insecticides and developed using local eco-type seed by independent native plant nurseries for native plant restoration efforts.

Regional Plant Lists

California Pollinator Plant List (Xerces Society: fact sheet)
Recommended native plants that are highly attractive to pollinators such as native bees, honey bees, butterflies, moths, and hummingbirds, and are well-suited for small-scale plantings in gardens, on business and school campuses, in urban greenspaces, and in farm field borders.

Native Plants Database (Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center: web site resource)
The Xerces Society has collaborated with the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center to create plant lists that are attractive to native bees, bumble bees, honey bees, and other beneficial insects, as well as plant lists with value as nesting materials for native bees. These lists can be narrowed down with additional criteria such as state, soil moisture, bloom time, and sunlight requirements.

Pollinator Conservation Seed Mix Calculator (Xerces Society: calculator)
Develop your own pollinator conservation seed mix using this seed rate calculator.

Pollinator Biology and Habitat in California (USDA-NRCS: technical note)
An in-depth guide to native bee ecology and conservation for natural areas and farms in California. A list of regionally appropriate plant species for habitat restoration is on pages 43-53.

National Plant Lists

Improving Forage for Native Bee Crop Pollinators (USDA National Agroforestry Center: technical note)
An in-depth guide to enhancing floral resources for native bees, with an emphasis on the selection of bee-friendly trees and shrubs

Plants Attractive to Native Bees (USDA Agricultural Research Service: web site resource)
A list of widely distributed plant genera that both are commonly cultivated and broadly attractive to bees.

Gardening for Native Bees in North America (USDA Agricultural Research Service: web site resource)
An overview of how to choose plants for garden settings to encourage bees.

Conservation Guides

Xerces Society Pollinator Habitat Installation Guides (Xerces Society: conservation guides)
These regional guidelines provide in-depth practical guidance on how to install nectar and pollen habitat for bees in the form of wildflower meadow plantings or linear rows of native flowering shrubs.

California Pollinator Plants: Native Milkweeds (USDA-NRCS: technical note)
This guide profiles the common milkweeds of California, describes their wildlife value, and provides guidance on incorporating milkweeds into Farm Bill conservation programs.

Pollinator Habitat Assessment Form and Guide (Xerces Society: conservation guidelines) This habitat assessment form and guide enables you to assess specific pollinator habitat features before and after project implementation in both orchard and field crop settings.

Establishing Pollinator Meadows from Seed (Xerces Society: conservation guides)
Establishing wildflower habitat for pollinators is the single most effective course of action to conserve pollinators that can be taken by anyone at any scale. These guidelines provide step-by-step instructions for establishing pollinator meadows from seed in areas that range in size from a small backyard garden up to areas around an acre. Use this document with pollinator plant list applicable to your region.

Pollinator Biology and Habitat in California (USDA-NRCS: technical note)
An in-depth guide to native bee ecology and conservation for natural areas and farms in California. A list of regionally appropriate plant species for habitat restoration is on pages 43-53.

Farming for Bees (Xerces Society: conservation guidelines)
This booklet outlines ways to protect and enhance habitat for native crop pollinators in the farm landscape. It includes advice on simple changes that can be made in farm management for the benefit of native bees, as well as how to create important habitat features.

Organic Farming Practices: Reducing Harm to Pollinators (Xerces Society: fact sheet)
Guidelines that rank the impact of various farming practices to native bees.

Pollinator Management for Organic Seed Producers (Xerces Society: conservation guidelines)
These guidelines provide clear strategies for conserving pollinators, managing crop isolation distances, and reducing unintended outcrossing between organic and non-organic seed crops.

Yolo Natural Heritage Program (NCP/NCCP) Pollinator Conservation Strategy (Yolo NHP & Xerces Society: conservation guidelines)
Written by Xerces Society scientists, this first-of-its-kind conservation strategy summarizes the threats facing native bees and identifies conservation measures that can be taken within the diverse landscapes, including agriculture, grasslands, woodlands, shrubland, riparian, and urban.

Pollinators in Natural Areas (Xerces Society: conservation guidelines)
This primer provides a summary of how land and wildlife managers can account for the habitat needs of pollinators. This 8-page booklet provides a series of recommendations for land managers on how tools such as fire, grazing, mowing, herbicides, and insecticides can be adjusted to benefit pollinators.

Pollinator-Friendly Parks. How to Enhance Parks, Gardens, and other Greenspaces for Native Pollinator Insects (Xerces Society: conservation guidelines)
These guidelines offer practical advice about providing habitat for native bees and butterflies in all types of parks and greenspaces. It includes advice on choosing plants that offer nectar and pollen, hostplants for caterpillars, and creating nest sites for solitary bees-in all types of parks.

Making Room for Native Pollinators. How to Create Habitat for Pollinator Insects on Golf Courses (Xerces Society: conservation guidelines)
Published by the U.S. Golf Association in 2002. Maintaining pollinator populations is one of the most valuable ways in which a course can contribute to a healthy environment. These guidelines offer tips for providing habitat for native bees.

Urban Bee Gardens (University of California Berkeley: web site resource)
This web site provides background information on native bees in urban areas and how to enhance gardens with bee plants.

Monarch Habitat Handbook (Xerces Society: conservation guidelines)
A California Landowner’s Guide to Managing Monarch Butterfly Overwintering Habitat.

Using Farm Bill Programs for Pollinator Conservation (USDA-NRCS: technical note)
These guidelines provide a concise summary of how Farm Bill conservation programs, such as the Environmental Quality Incentive Program or the Conservation Reserve Program, can be used to restore or enhance habitat for pollinators on working farms and private lands.

Sustaining Native Bee Habitat for Crop Pollination (USDA National Agroforestry Center: technical note)
An overview of how to provide habitat for crop-pollinating native bees in agroforestry settings.

Alternative Pollinators: Native Bees (ATTRA: handbook)
This publication provides information and resources on how to plan for, protect and create habitat for native bees in agricultural settings. The handbook includes a description of common native bee groups, nest management guidelines, wildflower recommendations, farm case studies, and other resources.

Pollinator Conservation: Three Simple Steps to Help Bees and Butterflies (Xerces Society: fact sheet)
This fact sheet provides an overview on the importance of pollinators and outlines three simple steps that you can do to help conserve bees and butterflies.

Protecting Nature’s Essential Service: The Xerces Society’s Pollinator Conservation Program (Xerces Society: fact sheet)
A summary of the Xerces Society’s Pollinator Conservation Program and key accomplishments within the program.

Pesticide Guides

Organic-Approved Pesticides: Minimizing Risks to Pollinators (Xerces Society: fact sheet)
Guidelines that rank the toxicity of common, organic-approved pesticides to native bees.

Preventing Negative Impacts of Pesticides on Pollinators (USDA-NRCS: technical note)
This USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) manual provides NRCS state offices and IPM professionals with guidance on conservation strategies that can reduce the risk of pesticides to bees in farm landscapes.

Pesticide Considerations for Native Bees in Agroforestry (USDA National Agroforestry Center: technical note)
An article highlighting how to reduce bee poisoning from pesticides.

How to Reduce Bee Poisoning from Pesticides (Oregon State University: Extension fact sheet)
A publication listing common agricultural pesticides and their known effects on multiple bee species.

Ecological Pest Management Database (ATTRA: web resource)
An online database that helps users select reduced risk pesticides for the protection of beneficial insects.

Native Bee Nest Management Guides

Managing Alternative Pollinators: A Handbook for Beekeepers, Growers, and Conservationists (SARE: handbook)
A first of its kind, step-by-step, full color guide for rearing and managing bumblebees, mason bees, leafcutter bees, and other honey bee alternatives. Free download; 162 pages.

Nests for Native Bees (Xerces Society: fact sheet)
A resource to that describes techniques used to make nests for native bees.

Tunnel Nest Construction and Management (Xerces Society: fact sheet)
Guidelines on the construction and maintenance of nest sites for tunnel nesting native bees.

Build a Nesting Board (USDA Agriculture Research Center: web site resource)
Instructions on how to construct a drilled nest board for leafcutter and mason bees. Includes extensive color photos of the construction process.

Reed Nests (USDA Agriculture Research Center: web site resource)
Instructions on how to cut and assemble bundled reed nests using the common reed (Phragmites australis).

Stick Nests (USDA Agriculture Research Center: web site resource)
An illustrated guide to constructing stick nests and stake nests for wood nesting bees such as mason bees, leafcutter bees, and various carpenter bees.

Native Pollinator Plant Nurseries

Pollinator Conservation Seed Mixes
The Xerces Society works with leading wildflower seed producers in multiple regions of the U.S. to develop custom native seed mixes that feature the best pollen and nectar plants available. Local ecotype, source-identified seed that is not treated with pesticides is used wherever possible. Large volume mixes are available at wholesale pricing to help offset the costs of native plant restoration.

The Acorn Cap, Corona, CA
The Acorn Cap offers plants native to the California Floristic Province, on a wholesale basis.

Bay Natives, San Francisco, CA
Bay Natives carries rare and endemic Bay Area native plants plus many species from across the state of California.

The Center for Social and Environmental Stewardship, Windsor, CA
The Center’s Native Plant Nursery propagates containerized California native plants and drought tolerant plants.

Central Coast Wilds, Santa Cruz, CA
Central Coast Wilds nursery specializes in native plants throughout the Monterey and San Francisco bay areas, wholesale.

Cornflower Farms, Elk Grove, CA
Cornflower Farms offers California native grasses, wildflowers and aquatic plants.

El Nativo Growers, Inc. , Azusa, CA
El Nativo Growers, Inc. sells groundcovers, shrubs, trees, perennials and grass. Wholesale only.

Elkhorn Native Plant Nursery, Moss Landing, CA
Elkhorn Native Plant Nursery provides California native plants and seeds, wholesale and retail.

Far West Bulb Farm, Grass Valley, CA
Far West is a mail-order nursery that provides flower bulbs native to north and central California.

Freshwater Farms/North Coast Native Seed Bank, Eureka, CA
Freshwater Farms has California native site-specific wetland and riparian plants and plants and seeds of rushes, sedges, coastal dune, and riparian trees.

Grow Native Nursery, Claremont and Los Angeles, CA
Grow Native Nursery offers native California plants, advice from expert staff, and water-wise solutions for home landscapes.

Hedgerow Farms, Winters, CA
Offers Xerces-reviewed seed mixes for pollinator conservation projects.
Hedgerow Farms specializes in seed of California native grasses, sedges, rushes and forbs, and also sells plug plants.

High Ranch Nursery, Loomis, CA
High Ranch is a wholesale nursery providing plants to northern California and the Bay Area.

Intermountain Nursery, Prather, CA
Intermountain Nursery offers bareroot material of trees native to California.

Larner Seeds, Bolinas, CA
Larner sells wildflower, grass, shrub, and tree seed native to California.

Las Pilitas Nursery, Escondido, CA and Santa Margarita, CA
Las Pilitas Nursery offers a diverse selection of plant material of California native trees, shrubs, perennials, and bulbs.

Middlebrook Gardens Nursery, San Jose, CA
Middlebrook Gardens Native Plant Nursery provides native plants from California plant communities.

Moosa Creek Nursery, Valley Center, CA
Moosa Creek is a wholesale nursery that specializes in California native plants.

Mostly Natives Nursery, Tomales, CA
Mostly Natives provides native and drought-tolerant plants suitable for the northern California climate.

Native Here Nursery, Berkeley, CA
Native Here Nursery offers plants that are native to Alameda and Contra Costa Counties in California.

Native Revival Nursery, Aptos, CA
Native Revival Nursery provides containerized native California trees, shrubs, vines, grasses and perennials, as well as seeds of Santa Cruz County wildflowers.

Native Sons, Inc. , Arroyo Grande, CA
Native Sons is a wholesale nursery that provides native California perennials, grasses and shrubs as well as flora from other areas with a Mediterranean climate.

Native Springs Nursery, Durham, CA
Native Springs Nursery offers plant material of native plants and trees.

North Coast Native Nursery, Petaluma, CA
North Coast Native is a wholesale and retail nursery offering California native perennials and custom seed collection.

Recon Native Plants, Inc. , San Diego, CA
Recon Native Plants is a wholesale nursery that offers plant species native to the southwestern United States.

S&S Seeds, Carpinteria, CA
S&S is a wholesale seed supplier of wildflowers, trees, shrubs, grasses and native plants of California.

San Marcos Growers, Santa Barbara, CA
San Marcos Growers is a wholesale nursery that sells native California plants as well as plants from other Mediterranean climates.

Seedhunt, Freedom, CA
Seedhunt provides seeds of native central California wildflowers.

Sierra Valley Farms, Beckwourth, CA
Sierra Valley Farms offers (retail and wholesale) native high elevation plants native to California and Nevada.

Tarweed Nursery and Landscape, Los Angeles, CA
Tarweed is a retail nursery that offers plants native to Southern California.

Theodore Payne Nursery, Sun Valley, CA
Theodore Payne Nursery sells California native plants in their nursery and native plant seeds and seed mixes online.

Tree of Life Nursery, San Juan Capistrano, CA
Tree of Life is a wholesale and retail nursery which provides California native plant material and also wildflower seed mixes.

Yerba Buena Nursery, Woodside, CA
Yerba Buena Nursery provides a wide variety of plants native to California.

Bee Identification and Monitoring Resources

California Citizen-Scientist Bee Monitoring Guide (Xerces Society: instructional handbook)
An instructional handbook for native bee survey efforts, used in the Xerces Society’s California Citizen-Scientist Bee Monitoring Course. The handbook assists users in identifying native bees to broad morphological categories for assessing general pollinator abundance and diversity.

Streamlined Bee Monitoring Protocol
Developed the University of California, Davis, Rutgers University, Michigan State University, and The Xerces Society, this guide provides instructions for assessing pollinator habitat quality and diversity by monitoring native bees. It was developed for conservationists, farmers, land managers, and restoration professionals to document how native bee communities change through time in pollinator habitats. It includes an introduction to bee identification, a detailed monitoring protocol, and data sheets for different habitat types.

California Citizen-Scientist Bee Monitoring Pocket Guide (Xerces Society: field ID guide)
A pocket-sized printable field version of the taxonomic native bee groups described the California Citizen-Scientist Bee Monitoring Guide.

Evaluating Quality of Citizen-Scientist Data on Pollinator Communities (Conservation Biology: contributed paper)
This research paper evaluates the utility of citizen-science observational data.

Western Bumble Bee Pocket Identification Guide (Xerces Society: field ID guide)
A full color print-and-fold guide to the Western bumble bee (Bombus occidentalis), a formerly common species believed to be in decline. Includes images of similar looking species.

BugGuide (Iowa State University: web resource)
BugGuide is an online community of naturalists who share photographs of bugs from the United States and Canada for identification and research. Site visitors can submit their own photos for identification assistance.

Discover Life (American Museum of Natural History: web resource)
Discover Life hosts interactive species guides provide identification support for North American bees in the states and provinces east of the Mississippi River. Work is ongoing to add additional species guides for bees from the rest of North American and the world.

Great Sunflower Project (San Francisco State University: citizen science program)
The Great Sunflower Project is a citizen-science monitoring effort to gather information about urban, suburban and rural bee populations across the U.S. and Canada. Participants plant sunflowers in their garden, then submit the results of a once weekly 15 minute observation of bee activity. The website offers guides to common bee groups of North America.

Native Buzz (University of Florida: citizen science program)
At the University of Florida Native Buzz, participants can keep track of their own “Native Buzz Nest Site” and see the results of other participant’s nest sites. The goals of this project are to learn more about nesting preferences, diversity and distribution of our native solitary bees and wasps, share the information gained and provide a forum for those interested in participating in the science and art of native beekeeping (and wasp-keeping!).

Bumble bees of the Western United States
(USDA Forest Service: field ID guide)
This field guide was produced by the USDA Forest Service and the Pollinator Partnership. The Guide covers the most commonly encountered bumble bees of the Western United States. Each bee species has information on preferred food plants, nesting biology, seasonal activity patterns, identification guidelines, and distribution maps.

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