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Pollinator Conservation Resources: North Central Region

In an arid, agricultural landscape, a hedgerow bursts with yellow flowers, including a few tall sunflower stalks.
(Photo: Xerces Society / Jennifer Hopwood)

Welcome to our Pollinator Conservation Resources for the North Central Region! Here you'll find region-specific collections of publications, native seed vendors, and other resources to aid in planning, establishing, restoring, and maintaining pollinator habitat—as well as materials to help you learn about the species of invertebrates and native plants you might encounter.

For more resources, see our Publications Library or learn about our Pollinator Conservation Program.

Click to return to the Pollinator Conservation Resource Center home page.

Habitat Assessment

Habitat Assessment Guide for Pollinators: Yards, Gardens, and Parks

Landscaping for pollinators is one of the easiest ways for urban, suburban, and rural residents to directly benefit local wildlife. Schoolyards, community gardens, back yards, corporate campuses, rain gardens, and neighborhood parks all have the potential to meet the most basic needs of pollinators, including protection from pesticides, and resources for foraging, nesting, and overwintering. 


Habitat Assessment Guide for Pollinators: Farms and Agricultural Landscapes

This pollinator habitat assessment guide is designed for a single site on a farm or agricultural landscape.


Habitat Assessment Guide For Pollinators: Natural Areas and Rangelands

This pollinator habitat assessment guide is designed for natural areas and rangelands.


Habitat Assessment Guide for Beneficial Insects: Farms and Agricultural Landscapes

This beneficial insect habitat assessment guide is designed for a single site on a farm or agricultural landscape.


Habitat Development for Pollinators

An in-depth guide to native bee ecology and conservation for natural areas and farms in Montana.


Estimated Costs to Establish Wildflower Plantings Using Chemical Fallow

This Xerces Society fact sheet provides a quick overview of the estimated costs of establishing wildflower habitat for pollinators on conventional farms.


Habitat Installation

Organic Site Preparation for Wildflower Establishment

Site preparation is one of the most important and often inadequately addressed components for successfully installing pollinator habitat. These guidelines provide step-by-step instructions, helpful suggestions, and regional timelines & checklists for preparing both small and large sites.


Upper Midwest Pollinator Meadow Habitat Installation Guide

These region-and state-specific guidelines provide in-depth practical guidance on how to install and maintain nectar- and pollen-rich habitat for pollinators in the form of wildflower meadow plantings/conservation cover (NRCS Conservation Practice 327) or linear rows of native flowering shrubs/hedgerow plantings (NRCS Conservation Practice 422). Seed mixes and plant recommendations for each region are included in the appendix of each guide. 


Prairie Restoration Technical Guide Series

This 10-part series provides important guidance on all stages of the restoration process, from seed collection to designing seed mixes to evaluating stand establishment, 


Establishing Pollinator Meadows from Seed
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.


Cover Cropping for Pollinators and Beneficial Insects

This 16-page bulletin will help you use cover crops to encourage populations of pollinators and beneficial insects on your farm while you address your other resource concerns. It begins with a broad overview of pollinator and beneficial insect ecology, then describes cover crop selection and management, how to make cover crops work on your farm, and helpful and proven crop rotations. It will also touch on the limitations of cover crops and pesticide harm reduction, among other topics.


Estimated Costs to Establish Pollinator Hedgerows

This fact sheet outlines the estimated costs of establishing hedgerow habitat for pollinators. Pollinator hedgerows are diverse linear plantings of native flowering trees, shrubs, perennial wildflowers and grasses designed to provide foraging and nesting habitat for pollinators. These estimates represent average costs of establishing hedgerows from transplants, and are derived from a series of pollinator hedgerow habitat projects throughout the United States. Actual costs vary from project to project and region to region.

Plant Lists

Pollinator Plants:  Northern Plains

This fact sheet features regionally native plants that are highly attractive to pollinators and are well-suited for small-scale plantings in gardens, urban greenspaces, and farm field borders, and on business and school campuses.


Monarch Nectar Plants:  Northern Plains

This Xerces Society fact sheet features 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 Plant Profiles and Lists

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.


Montana Native Plants for Pollinator-Friendly Plantings

An overview of regionally appropriate, easy-to-establish native wildflowers that support pollinators.


Native Milkweeds:  Pollinator Plants of the Central United States

A regional guide to the native milkweeds of North America, developed in cooperation with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.


Important Plants of the Monarch Butterfly – Northern Great Plains

This guide from the NRCS contains three different technical support documents to assist staff in Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota in making informed management decisions.


Roadside Habitat for Monarchs:  Milkweeds of Kansas & Missouri

A diversity of milkweed species is found on roadsides, and play an important role in supporting the life cycle of monarchs. This guide can help you recognize the most common native species of milkweed on roadsides in your region.


Roadside Habitat for Monarchs:  Milkweeds of Montana & Wyoming

A diversity of milkweed species is found on roadsides, and play an important role in supporting the life cycle of monarchs. This guide can help you recognize the most common native species of milkweed on roadsides in your region.


Roadside Habitat for Monarchs:  Milkweeds of Nebraska, North Dakota & South Dakota

A diversity of milkweed species is found on roadsides, and play an important role in supporting the life cycle of monarchs. This guide can help you recognize the most common native species of milkweed on roadsides in your region.

Habitat Management

Maintaining Diverse Stands of Wildflowers

High quality pollinator meadows sometimes experience a decline in wildflower diversity or abundance as they age. This guide provides recommendations on how to bring declining meadows back into a high quality condition.


Collecting and Using Your Own Wildflower Seed

In this document we outline the basic steps of collecting native plant seed using readily available, non-specialized equipment, as well as tips for cleaning, storing, and sharing seed to expand pollinator habitat on farms and in our communities.


Nesting & Overwintering Habitat For Pollinators & Other Beneficial Insects

This guide focuses on a variety of natural nesting habitat features that can be readily incorporated into most landscapes. Compared to artificial nesting options such as bee blocks and bee hotels, natural nesting habitat features often better mimic the natural nest site density of insects, and also break down naturally with time, limiting disease and parasite issues.


Rangeland Management and Pollinators:  A Guide for Producers in the Great Plains

These best management practices (BMPs) will help you manage your rangeland using grazing, fire, or haying, to support both livestock production and pollinator health. Well-managed rangelands are home for many species of wildlife, and your management decisions play an important role in conservation. 


Minnesota Pollinator Resources

A compilation of regional resources including guidelines on best management practices for pollinator habitat; and a new booklet featuring the pollinator resource values of upland and wetland prairie plants.


Roadside Best Management Practices that Benefit Pollinators

These best management practices provide concrete steps that can be taken by any roadside management agency to improve roadside vegetation for pollinators. The BMPs cover management of existing habitat, including ways to modify the use of mowing and herbicides to enhance roadsides, and methods to incorporate native plants and pollinator habitat into the design of new roadsides.


Roadside Habitat For Monarchs: Monarch Butterflies, Weeds, and Herbicides

Roadsides provide more than just milkweed. They can also provide diverse nectar sources to feed adult monarchs and other pollinators—but ensuring that roadsides can continue to provide the best habitat requires some thought and care. This guide highlights best management practices to reduce the impacts of herbicides on monarchs.


Farming with Soil Life:  A Handbook for Supporting Soil Invertebrates and Soil Health on Farms

This guide focuses on the diverse, often overlooked, and essential living species that we know best: the major invertebrates (macrofauna and mesofauna) found in temperate agricultural soils. There is a focus on North America in the groups of organisms and the soil health practices that are covered, but many groups are present in these soil types around the world, and the same management principles apply. Larger soil animals, such as ground beetles, woodlice, and springtails, and their many companions, have received less attention than soil microbes in recent years.

Pesticide Protection

Guidance to Protect Habitat from Pesticide Contamination: Creating and Maintaining Healthy Pollinator Habitat

This Xerces Society guidance document was designed to help growers, land managers, and others safeguard pollinator habitat from harmful pesticide contamination. It includes information on selecting habitat sites, as well as ways to maintain clean habitat by limiting and carefully managing pesticide use.


Smarter Pest Management: Protecting Pollinators at Home

Most of North America’s native bee species only forage over a distance of a few hundred yards, so with a little planning, your yard can provide a safe space for bees and other pollinators to thrive. All you need to give them are flowering plants throughout the growing season, undisturbed places to nest, and protection from pesticides. This Xerces Society guide will help you with the last item, managing yard pests in a pollinator-friendly way.


Smarter Pest Management: Pollinator Protection for Cities and Campuses

This Xerces Society fact sheet introduces to city and campus land managers the concept of integrated pest management (IPM), a system that emphasizes prevention first and seeks to eliminate the underlying causes of plant diseases, weeds, and insect problems rather than relying on routine use of pesticides.


Buying Bee-Safe Plants
Creating a welcoming home for local pollinators in your home garden or city park habitat is reason enough to choose plants free from harmful pesticide residues. Nurseries are more likely to make investments in pollinator-friendly production if their customers make it clear this is what they want. Our guide, Buying Bee-Safe Plants, covers four ways to help you find plants that are safe for bees, and includes tips and questions to use at the nursery.


Offering Bee-Safe Plants: A Guide for Nurseries

Three core elements of pollinator-friendly growing include using non-chemical methods to prevent and manage pests, monitoring of pest pressure, and limiting risk to pollinators if pesticides are used. These concepts are rooted in integrated pest management and are familiar to most growers. Offering Bee-Safe Nursery Plants: A Guide for Nurseries explains these concepts further and was created for wholesalers and retailers to explore, encourage, and implement pollinator friendly pest-management in the nursery business.


Protecting Pollinators from Pesticides: Fungicide Impacts on Pollinators

From large farms to small backyard gardens, many people use fungicides to control plant pathogens. While insecticides have long been recognized as a threat to bees and other beneficial insects, fungicides have generally been assumed to be relatively harmless. Though most fungicide exposures won’t kill a bee immediately, a growing body of research suggests that some fungicides can cause subtle yet significant harm. This Xerces Society fact sheet delves into how these impacts on pollinators occur, and offers mitigation measures and alternative pest management strategies.


How to Reduce Bee Poisoning from Pesticides 

This detailed guide, produced jointly by the extension services of Oregon State University, Washington State University, and the University of Idaho, offers guidance on how to select and apply insecticides. Extensive tables list the toxicity to bees of dozens of chemicals and how long after application they remain hazardous to bees in the field.


Protecting Bees from Neonicotinoids in Your Garden

Neonicotinoids are a group of insecticides that are used widely on farms, as well as around our homes, schools, and city landscapes. This Xerces Society brochure explains why they are a risk to bees, gives examples of neonicotinoid garden products, and gives some simple tips for protecting bees from these insecticides.


How Neonicotinoids Can Kill Bees: The Science Behind the Role These Insecticides Play in Harming Bees

In this Xerces Society report, we present an overview of research that clearly documents neonicotinoid impacts on bees. The report also covers what can be inferred from existing research, and identifies knowledge gaps that will need to be filled to allow for better-informed decisions about the future use and regulation of these chemicals.


Beyond the Birds and the Bees: Effects of Neonicotinoid Insecticides on Agriculturally Important Beneficial Insects

This Xerces Society report details potential negative impacts of neonicotinoid insecticides on important beneficial insects. It also makes recommendations on how we can better protect important beneficials like beetles and wasps.


Organic Pesticides: Minimizing Risks to Pollinators and Beneficial Insects

These Xerces Society guidelines provide a brief overview of how to select and apply pesticides for organic farm operations while minimizing pollinator mortality. Many of the practices outlined here for protecting pollinators also can help to protect beneficial insects such as parasitoid wasps and flies; predaceous wasps, flies, and beetles; ambush and assassin bugs; lacewings; and others. The presence of these insects can further reduce pest pressure and the need for chemical treatments.


Common Organic-Allowed Pesticides: A Comparative Overview

Intended as a companion document to Organic Pesticides: Minimizing Risks to Pollinators and Beneficial Insects, this fact sheet is intended to be a quick reference to help you select and use organically-approved pesticides with the least impact on bees and other beneficial insects.


Supporting Ecologically Sound Mosquito Management: Protecting Pollinators from Pesticides

This Xerces Society fact sheet provides a brief overview of mosquito management methods that protect both people and pollinators, plus two case studies in effective mosquito management.


IPI Database

The IPI database contains summaries of research articles on pesticides, their effects on invertebrates, and pesticide movement in the environment. Articles have been reviewed and summarized to highlight key findings by Xerces Society staff.


Preventing or Mitigating Potential Negative Impacts of Pesticides on Pollinators Using Integrated Pest Management and Other Conservation Practices

Agronomy Technical Note No. 9.


Identification & Monitoring Resources

Upper Midwest Citizen Science Monitoring Guide

Developed for community scientists (sometimes referred to as "citizen scientists") to document how native bee communities change through time in pollinator habitats. It includes an introduction to bee identification, an overview of biology, tools for identifying different groups of bees, and observation datasheets.


Western Bumble Bee Pocket Identification 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.


Yellowbanded Bumble Bee Pocket Identification 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

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.


Bumble Bees of the Western United States

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.


Bumble Boosters

Bumble Boosters is a collaborative project administered by the University of Nebraska to promote the study and conservation of bumble bees by Nebraska high schools. The site includes information about bumble bee biology, and a color identification guide to native bumble bees of the region.


Bumble Bees of Colorado

This pictorial guide to the bumblebees of Colorado features photos, species discussions, county distribution maps, elevation ranges and more.

Native Seed & Plant Suppliers

Buying Bee-Safe Plants

Our guide, Buying Bee-Safe Plants, covers four ways to help you find plants that are safe for bees, and includes tips and questions to use at the nursery.  Check out our Bee-Safe Nursery Plants webpage for more information.

Related document: Offering Bee-Safe Plants: A Guide for Nurseries

Native Plant, Seed, and Services Directory

The Native Plant, Seed, and Services Directory is a searchable database tool to find suppliers of native plants, native seeds, and related services. This includes businesses, organizations, and networks in Canada, the United States, and Mexico.


Milkweed Finder

As part of our Project Milkweed, we have created this comprehensive national directory of milkweed plant and seed vendors to help you find sources of seed. To learn more about monarch butterflies and how you can participate in conservation efforts, please visit the Xerces Society’s Monarch Butterfly Conservation page or the Monarch Joint Venture webpage.

Pollinator Conservation Seed Mixes

The Xerces Society partners with the native seed industry to produce wildflower seed mixes that meet Xerces specifications and provide foraging and nesting resources for a diversity of pollinators. This is a searchable database tool to find pollinator-friendly seed mixes by region or state.


MNL Upper Midwest Pollinator Mix – Dry to Mesic

This mix developed by Minnesota Native Landscapes is the dry-mesic version of their popular Pollinator Mix approved by the Xerces Society for pollinator habitat enhancement and restoration. Their most diverse mix, with over 25 species of wildflowers including 3 or more in each bloom season:  spring, summer, and fall. This mix is appropriate for habitat restoration in Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. This mix is sold as “pure live seed” as opposed to “bulk seed” and is calculated at a robust seeding rate of approximately 70 seeds per square foot, per acre.

Further Reading

Pollinators:  South Dakota

Factsheet providing a short overview of basic pollinator ecology from the NRCS South Dakota.


Pollinators:  North Dakota

An overview of pollinator ecology, with lists of Norht Dakota native plant species and example pollinator habitat mixes.


Pollinator Conservation in Minnesota and Wisconsin:  A Regional Stakeholders Report

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.


Farming for Bees

Farming for Bees outlines ways to protect and enhance habitat for native crop pollinators in the farm landscape. Containing a wealth of information about common groups of native bees, their habitat requirements, and conservation strategies to increase their numbers on farms.


Habitat Planning for Beneficial Insects

This publication outlines the ecology of many native beneficial insect groups and highlights recommended strategies for conservation biological control—the practice of providing habitat for insects that attack crop pests. While native predator and parasitoid insects alone may not solve all of a producer’s pest problems, they can be an important part of an Integrated Pest Management system and contribute to reduced need for pesticides over time.


Farming with Native Beneficial Insects

This comprehensive guide describes how to recognize these insects and their habitat, and how to evaluate, design, and improve habitat for them. Close-up photography and in-depth profiles familiarize you with more than 20 beneficial insects and their kin. Step-by-step illustrated instructions detail specific solutions including native plant field borders, mass insectary plantings, hedgerows, cover crops, buffer strips, beetle banks, and brush piles.


Attracting Native Pollinators

Attracting Native Pollinators offers the latest understanding on creating and managing pollinator habitat. Illustrated with hundreds of color photographs and dozens of specially created illustrations, this book will help you make room for the pollinators that you love. 


100 Plants to Feed the Bees

100 Plants to Feed the Bees identifies the plants that honey bees and native bees – as well as butterflies, moths, and hummingbirds – find most nutritious, including flowers, trees, shrubs, herbs, and pasture plants.


Gardening For Butterflies

Gardening for Butterflies will introduce you to a variety of butterflies that need help and provides suggestions for native plants to attract them, habitat designs to help them thrive, and garden practices to accommodate all their stages of life. Home gardeners will learn how to design a butterfly garden, no matter the size of their space.