Pollinator Conservation Resources – Great Lakes Region

The pollinator resources found on this page support habitat projects in western New York, Ontario, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, and Iowa.

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

Upper Midwest Plants for Native Bees (Xerces Society: fact sheet)
A quick reference guide to some of the most effective native and ornamental plants for supporting native bees, based upon extensive observations by Xerces Society pollination ecologists.

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

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.

Enhancing Beneficial Insects with Native Plants (Michigan State University: Extension web resource)
An extensive web site that includes lists of native and naturalized plant species for attracting pollinators and other beneficial insects, based upon extensive field testing.

Attracting Beneficial Insects with Native Flowering Plants (Michigan State University: Extension fact sheet)
A companion fact sheet to MSU’s native plants for attracting beneficial insects web site.

Wisconsin Pollinator Biology and Habitat (USDA-NRCS: technical note)
An in-depth guide to native bee ecology and conservation for natural areas and farms in Wisconsin. An extensive and detailed list of plant species is included on pages 18-24. Also included are color photos of common regional bees and sample seeding mixes for habitat restoration efforts.

Illinois Pollinator Biology and Habitat (USDA-NRCS: technical note)
An in-depth guide to native bee ecology and conservation for natural areas and farms in Illinois. An extensive and detailed list of plant species is included on pages 20-27. Also included are color photos of common regional bees and sample seeding mixes for habitat restoration efforts.

The Wisconsin Bumblebee (citizen-scientist web site resource)
A list of native Wisconsin bumble bee plants mentioned in Bernd Heinrich’s 1979 book, Bumblebee Economics, compiled by Wisconsin citizen-scientist, Paul Oliphant.

Bumble Bee Conservation in and around Cranberry Marshes (University of Wisconsin: research summary)
An overview of research investigating bumble bee forage resources around cranberry bogs. Includes a list of plants that bumble bees visited.

National Plant Lists

Plants for Native Bees in North America (Xerces Society: fact sheet)
A general information guide to selecting common native and ornamental garden plants that attract native bees.

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
Pollinator Plants of the Central United States: Native Milkweeds (Xerces and USDA-NRCS joint publication)
This guide profiles milkweed species of the lower Midwest and central United States, describes their wildlife value, and provides guidance on how to include milkweeds in habitat restoration plantings that benefit monarch butterflies, native bees, and other beneficial insects.

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.

Attracting Native Pollinators. Protecting North America’s Bees and Butterflies (Xerces Society: handbook)
Now in its second printing, Attracting Native Pollinators reflects the latest understanding about creating and managing pollinator habitat. Illustrated with hundreds of color photographs and dozens of specially created illustrations this book is divided into four sections: pollinators and pollination, taking action, bees of North America, and creating a pollinator-friendly landscape.

Pollinator Habitat Assessment Form and Guide (Xercs 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 (Michigan USDA-NRCS: technical note)
An in-depth guide to native bee ecology and conservation for natural areas and farms in Michigan.

Pollinator Conservation in Minnesota and Wisconsin: A Regional Stakeholders Report (Xerces Society: conservation guidelines)
This report summarizes the findings of an August 2010 meeting of regional stakeholders (farm organizations, universities, nonprofit conservation organization, and state and federal agencies) held at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire. It identifies the primary threats to the region’s pollinator and offers conservation recommendations.

Pollinator Habitat and Biology (Illinois USDA-NRCS: technical note)
An in-depth guide to native bee ecology and conservation for natural areas and farms in Illinois. An extensive and detailed list of plant species is included on pages 20-27. Also included are color photos of common regional bees and sample seeding mixes for habitat restoration efforts.

Wisconsin Biology Tech Note 8: Pollinator Biology and Habitat (Wisconsin USDA-NRCS: technical note) An in-depth guide to native bee ecology and conservation for natural areas and farms in Wisconsin. An extensive and detailed list of plant species is included on pages 18-24. Also included are color photos of common regional bees and sample seeding mixes for habitat restoration efforts.

Pollinator Habitat Planting (USDA-NRCS: job sheet)
This document outlines the technical specifications required to establish pollinator habitat through the Conservation Reserve State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (CRP-SAFE) Program. Included in the document is information about site preparation, planting, and long-term land management recommendations.

Factors Affecting Butterfly Use of Filter Strips in Southwestern Minnesota (Iowa and Minnesota USDA-NRCS: research summary)
A summary of how native grass farm buffer strips affect the populations of several butterfly species in intensively farmed landscapes.

Conserving Native Bees on Farmland (Michigan State University: Extension fact sheet)
An overview of Michigan’s native bees and the plants that support them, as well as strategies for their conservation on farms.

Cranberry Pollination and Bumblebees (Wisconsin Cranberry Growers Association: presentation summary)
This document provides an assessment of wild bumble bee pollination for Wisconsin cranberry production. Includes a short list of plant species that support bumble bees before and after crop bloom.

BumbleBee Conservation In and Around Cranberry Marshes (University of Wisconsin: research summary)
This document summarizes research conducted by the University of Wisconsin about which plant species and plant community types around cranberry farms are most valuable for bumblebee forage in northern Wisconsin.

Conserving Pollinators: A Primer for Gardeners (University of Minnesota: Extension web resource)
An introduction to pollinator conservation in urban gardens including information on pesticides reduction, flower selection for pollinators, native bee nests, and backyard beekeeping.

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.

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.

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.

Wild Pollinators of Eastern Apple Orchards (Cornell University: conservation guidelines)
Produced by Cornell University, Penn State University, Xerces Society, Northeastern IPM Center, USDA Department of Agriculture, and USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. This book includes a photo guide to bees most important to apple production in the East, steps to conserving wild bee populations, plant recommendations to enhance habitat, summary of bee toxicities for commonly used orchard pesticides, and links to additional information.

Pesticide Guides

Protecting Honey Bees from Pesticides (Ohio State University: Extension fact sheet)
This guide provides honey bee toxicity ranking for many common pesticides. Note that native bees, especially small species, may have a lower tolerance for than honey bees for pesticide exposure.

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

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 (University of Oregon: 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

Xerces Pollinator Conservation Seed Store
The Xerces Society’s online Pollinator Conservation Seed Store works with leading wildflower seed producers in each region of the United States to develop pre-mixed blends of some of the best pollen and nectar plants available. Local, 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. Additional selection, packet sizes and butterfly host plants are being added on a regular basis.

Agrecol, Madison, WI
Agrecol provides a diverse selection of native wildflower and grass seed, as well as live native plants, to the Upper Midwest.

Allendan Seed, Winterset, IA
Allendan Seed offers over 250 species of Iowa grown native wildflower and prairie seed.

Amanda’s Garden, Springwater, NY
Amanda’s Garden offers nursery propagated perennials native to the Northeast.

Blazing Star Nursery, Woodstock, IL
Blazing Star sells prairie, woodland and wetland seeds and small numbers of plants from the northeastern Illinois region.

Bluestem Farm, Baraboo, WI
Bluestem offers nursery-propagated prairie, savanna, and woodland potted plants native to southern Wisconsin.

Broadview Wildflower Seed, Grinnell, WI
Broadview Wildflower Seed offers native wildflower seed mixes for bees, butterflies, and birds.

Cardno JFNew, Walkerton, IN
Cardno JFNew’s plant nursery provides plant materials and seeds of Midwest native grasses, wildflowers, trees and shrubs.

Country Road Greenhouses, Inc. , Rochelle, IL
Country Road Greenhouses, Inc. specializes in prairie forb, grass and sedge transplants.

Earthskin Nursery, Mason City, IL
Earthskin Nursery specializes in central Illinois ecotype seed of prairie forbs and grasses.

Everwilde Farms, Inc. , Bloomer, WI
Everwilde offers a selection of wildflower seeds, including species native to the Midwest.

Envirotech Nursery, Somerset, OH
Envirotech is a wholesale and retail native plant nursery that sells wetland, sedge meadow, wet prairie and tallgrass prairie plants.

Feder Prairie Seed, Blue Earth, MN
Feder’s specializes in local ecotype south central Minnesota native prairie forb and grass seeds.

Heartland Restoration Services, Inc. , Fort Wayne, IN
Heartland’s native seed nursery provides seed of Midwestern wildflowers, grasses and sedges, and will also contract grow native plant materials.

Hidden Savanna Nursery, Kalamazoo, MI
Hidden Savanna provides Michigan native wildflowers, grasses, and shrubs sold in containers and plugs, with a focus on SW Michigan ecotypes.

Hild & Associates, River Falls, WI
Hild & Associates provides of plant material of native prairie and wetland species of the Midwest.

Hoksey Native Seeds, Lynnville, IA
Hoksey provides Iowa ecotype natvie grasses and wildflower seeds, as well as CRP or custom seed mixes.

Ion Exchange Native Wildflower Seed and Nursery, Harpers Ferry, IA
Ion Exchange sells native prairie wildflower and grass seed and plant materials to locations in the Midwest.

J & J Transplant Aquatic Nursery Inc. , Wild Rose, WI
J & J offers plugs, seeds and bare root material of prairie and aquatic Midwest species.

Landscape Alternatives, Inc. , Shafer, MN
Prairie flowers and grasses and Midwest woodland flowering plants can all be found at Landscape Alternatives plant nursery.

Michigan Wildflower Farm, Portland, MI
Michigan Wildflower Farm is a producer of local ecotype native Michigan wildflower and grass seed.

Minnesota Native Landscapes, Otsego, MN
Minnesota Native Landscapes offers native Minnesota plant community seed mixes, as well as trees and shrubs, and can custom grow requested native plants.

Morning Sky Greenery, Morris, MN
Morning Sky sells seeds and plant materials of a wide range of native plants found in Minnesota and the Upper Midwest.

Native Connections, Three Rivers, MI
Native Connections provides Michigan ecotype grass and wildflower seed.

The Native Plant Nursery, LLC, Ann Arbor, MI
The Native Plant Nursery, Inc. offers Michigan sourced native plants and seeds, as well as custom seed mixes.

The Natural Garden, Inc. , St. Charles, IL
The Natural Garden, Inc. sells herbaceous perennial plants native to the Chicago region, as well as seeds of some species.

Natural Shore Technologies, Inc. , Maple Plain, MN
Natural Shore’s nursery specializes in moisture-loving prairie plants as well as Minnesota native shore and wetland plant stock.

Nodding Onion Gardens , Columbia Station, OH
Nodding Onion Gardens strives to offer native wildflower plants that are attractive to native pollinators as well as offering plants listed as endangered or threatened.

Oakland Wildflower Farm, Ortonville, MI
Oakland Wildflower Farm sells transplants of native forbs and grasses, and specializes in Southeast Michigan ecotypes.

Ohio Prairie Nursery, Hiram, OH
Ohio Prairie Nursery provides Ohio regional seed mixes as well as species of wildflower, grass and sedge seeds, and a limited amount of plant material.

Osenbaugh’s Praire Seed Farms, Lucas, IA
This seed producer provides prairie wildflower and grass seeds of Iowa ecotypes.

Out Back Nursery, Inc. , Hastings, MN
Out Back sells plant materials from Minnesota woodland, floodplain, savanna, wetland, shoreline, and prairie species.

The Plantsmen Nursery, LLC, Groton, NY
This nursery provides grasses, shrubs, trees, perennial wildflowers and wetland plants native to New York.

Possibility Place Nursery, Monee, IL
Possibility Place Nursery offers plants of Illinois native shrubs, trees and perennials.

The Prairie Flower, Spencer, IA
The Prairie Flower provides northwest Iowa ecotype native prairie and wetland plants and seeds.

Prairie Nursery, Westfield, WI
Prairie Nursery provides native wildflower and grass seed, seed mixes, and plants to the Midwest region.

Prairie Moon Nursery, Winona, MN
Prairie Moon has a high diversity of species native to the Upper Midwest for prairie, savanna, woodland and wetland, and sells seed and bare-root plants.

Prairie Restorations, Inc. , Princeton, MN
Prairie Restorations provides Minnesota ecotype seeds and plants of prairie, savanna, wetland, woodland and shoreline species.

Shooting Star Native Seeds, Spring Grove, MN
Shooting Star Native Seeds specializes in local ecotype prairie and wetland seed, as well as seed mixes appropriate for the Upper Midwest.

Simply Native Nursery, Alexis, IL
We offer nursery propagated prairie, woodland and wetland forbs and grasses native to Western IL/Eastern IA.

Southern Tier Consulting and Nursery, Inc. , West Clarksville, NY
This nursery sells live plant material of wetland, wildflower and grasses native to the NE U. S., in addition to some seed.

Spence Restoration Nursery, Inc. , Muncie, IN
Spence provides native seeds and plants of eastern Midwest ecotypes, including wetland, prairie, and woodland species.

Spring Lake Restoration Nurseries, Prior Lake, MN
Spring Lake sells plants and seeds of ecotypes of east-central Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin.

Stone Silo Prairie Gardens, De Pere, WI
Stone Silo provides native flowers and grasses, available online or by mail.

Taylor Creek Restoration Nurseries, Brodhead, WI
Taylor Creek offers native seeds and plants of prairie grasses and wildflowers, shrubs and trees of the Midwest.

Wetland Supply Company, Apollo, PA
Wetland Supply sells native wetland, prairie and woodland plants, both containerized and bare root stock.

Wildtype Native Plant Nursery, Mason, MI
Wildtype provides Michigan ecotype plant material of woody plants, forbs and grass species.

Wilson Seed Farms, Inc. , Tiskilwa, IL
Wilson Seed Farms, Inc. sells native wildflower and grass seed, and can provide specific seed mixes to comply with conservation program requirements or will create custom Illinois seed mixes.

Winterhaven Wildflowers, West Point, IN
Winterhaven offers wholesale, retail or contact growing of Indiana native wildflowers and grasses, and specializes in monarch habitat plants, including ten species of milkweed.

Woods’ Edge Farm, Muscoda, WI
Woods Edge Farm provides Wisconsin ecotype perennials and shrubs native to the woodlands and savannas of the upper Midwest.

Bee Identification and Monitoring Resources

Pennsylvania Citizen-Scientist Bee Monitoring Guide (Penn State: instructional handbook)
An instructional handbook for native bee survey efforts, used by the Penn State Master Gardener Program. The handbook assists users in identifying native bees to broad morphological categories for assessing general pollinator abundance and diversity. Developed in collaboration with the Xerces Society, this guide is useful in identifying broad groups of bees throughout the Northeastern U.S.

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

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

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

Bee Spotter (University of Illinois: citizen scientist program)
Bee Spotter is an initiative to document the abundance and distribution of bumble bees within Illinois. Site visitors can submit their own photos for identification assistance, and observational reports are recorded in a database showing the geographic locations of each 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 Eastern 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 Eastern 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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