Pollinator Conservation Resources – Great Lakes Region

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

View all the regions in North America for other pollinator resources. Click here to access national resources for the US and Canada including:

  • Conservation guides and fact sheets for farms, gardens, parks and natural areas
  • Information on native bee nests
  • Pollinator plant lists
  • Pesticide guides
  • Bee identification and monitoring resources

For questions, comments, or to suggest additional content, please email pollinators@xerces.org.

Recommended Pollinator Plants

Great Lakes Pollinator Plant List (The Xerces Society: fact sheet)
Recommended native plants for the Great Lakes Region 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.

Midwest Pollinator Plant List (The Xerces Society: fact sheet)
Recommended native plants for Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana 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 Plant Profiles and Lists (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.

Conservation Guides

Xerces Society Pollinator Habitat Installation Guides (The 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.

Upper Midwest Pollinator Habitat Installation Guide: Conservation Cover (Draft)

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.

Pollinator Conservation in Minnesota and Wisconsin: A Regional Stakeholders Report (The 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 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 Habitat Planting (Michigan 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Native Pollinator Plant Nurseries and Seed Companies

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.

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.

Glacial Ridge Growers, Glenwood, MN
Glacial Ridge Growers offers over 250 species of live plants, propagated and grown using sustainable non-chemical production techniques.

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.

Naturally Native Nursery, Bowling Green, OH
Naturally Native Nursery is an organic, wholesale/ retail native plant nursery with tens of thousands of Upper Midwest native plants, including seven milkweed species.

Naturally WILD , Minneapolis, MN
Naturally Wild provides native Minnesota wildflowers, grasses and other garden plants that are grown using only natural, sustainable, nonchemical methods.

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.

Yellowbanded Bumble Bee Pocket Identification Guide (The 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 (The 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.

Minnesota Bumble Bee Survey (University of Minnesota: citizen scientist program)
Visit this page to learn more about Minnesota’s 18 species of bumble bees, and how to volunteer for multi-year sampling of bumble bee populations in targeted parks in Minnesota.

Spring Wild Bees of Wisconsin (University of Wisconsin-Madison: online ID guide)
This online guide will help you identify wild bees common in Wisconsin in the spring and early summer.

Ohio Bee Identification Guide (The Ohio State University-OARDC: ID guide)
A pocket guide to the groups of bees common in Ohio.

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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