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Pollinator Conservation Resources: Northeast Region

Two large bees with a pale yellow, fuzzy front end and a smoother, black rear collect nectar and pollen on pink, daisy-like flowers.
(Photo: Xerces Society / Eric Venturini)

Welcome to our Pollinator Conservation Resources for the Northeast 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.

 

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.

 

Habitat Installation Guide:  New England Conservation Cover (327) for Pollinators

Specific to New England, this Xerces and USDA-NRCS guide provides detailed instructions for installing and maintaining pollinator habitat in the form of conservation cover according to NRCS Conservation Practice 327, complete with recommended native plant lists, example seed mixes, and a Job Sheet for planning, implementing, and completing the project.

 

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

Milkweed Seed Finder

As part of our Project Milkweed, we have created this comprehensive national directory of milkweed 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 Plants: Northeast Region

This Xerces Society fact sheet lists 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.

 

Monarch Nectar Plants: Northeast

This regional list of monarch nectar plants is geared toward gardeners, landscape designers, and land managers who are implementing small- to large-scale monarch restoration projects in the New England states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, as well as eastern New York. Created by the Xerces Society.

 

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.

 

Roadside Habitat for Monarchs: Milkweeds of the Northeast

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.

 

Pollinator-Friendly Plants for the Northeast United States

An in-depth guide to pollinator-friendly plants of the Northeast United States, created by the USDA-NRCS.

 

Habitat Management

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.

 

Maintaining Diverse Stands of Wildflowers Planted for Pollinators

High quality pollinator meadows sometimes experience a decline in wildflower diversity or abundance as they age. This Xerces Society 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.

 

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.

 

Wild Pollinators of Eastern Apple Orchards (Second Edition)

Produced by Cornell University, Penn State University, The 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.

 

Managing Eastern Apple Orchards for Pollinators and Other Beneficial Insects

Developed by Penn State Extension and Xerces Society staff, this full-color, 86-page guide with over 100 photographs focuses on balancing pest management in orchards with the protection of managed and wild pollinators and beneficial insects.

 

New England Pollinator Biology and Habitat

An in-depth guide to bee conservation in New England, created by the USDA-NRCS. The document includes an overview of native bee and honey bee biology, farm management practices that impact pollinators, a color photo guide to common bee genera, and list of regionally appropriate plants for habitat restoration efforts on pages 25-38.

 

Field Conservation Management of Native Leafcutting and Mason Osmia Bees

This document by the University of Maine Extension Service includes information on the natural history of tunnel nesting native bees and how to enhance forage resources and improve nesting sites.

 

Wild Bee Conservation for Wild Blueberry Fields

This document by the University of Maine Extension Service covers native bee biology and habitat needs. Includes a brief list of important supplemental flower species, and a table of agricultural chemicals that negatively affect bees.

 

Conservation and Management of Native Bees in Cranberry

A comprehensive overview of native bees visiting cranberry bogs in Maine, from the University of Maine Extension Service. This document includes a list of wildflowers visited by the various described bee species.

 

Wild Blueberry Network Information Centre

The Wild Blueberry Network Information Centre project began in June 1997 to provide scientific and technical information about wild blueberry production and marketing for producers, agricultural professionals, researchers and students, and has kept expanding since!

 

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

Bumble Bees of the Eastern United States

This US Forest Service guide provides information to identify 21 bumble bee species found east of the Mississippi River.

 

Pennsylvania Citizen Scientist Bee Monitoring Guide

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 by Penn State in collaboration with the Xerces Society, this guide is useful in identifying broad groups of bees throughout the Northeastern United States.

 

Pennsylvania Citizen Scientist Bee Monitoring Pocket Guide

A pocket-sized printable field version of the taxonomic native bee groups described the Penn-State Citizen Scientist Bee Monitoring Guide.

 

Yellow-Banded Bumble Bee Pocket Identification Guide

A full color print-and-fold guide to the yellow-banded 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.

 

Great Pollinator Project

The Great Pollinator Project (formerly NYC Bee Watchers) engages public participants with bee surveying efforts in New York City. Project goals are to 1) identify which areas of New York City have good pollination services (as determined by how quickly bees show up to pollinate flowers at various locations throughout the city); 2) increase understanding of bee distribution; 3) raise public awareness of native bees; and 4) improve park management and home gardening practices to benefit native bees.

 

Maine Bumble Bee Atlas

In order to document the diversity, distribution and abundance of bumble bees in Maine, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife has initiated the Maine Bumble Bee Atlas project. Designed as a multi-year statewide survey, the project is being coordinated by MDIFW in partnership with the University of Maine at Orono and Farmington. 

 

Native Seed & Plant Vendors

Milkweed Seed Finder

As part of our Project Milkweed, we have created this comprehensive national directory of milkweed 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.

 

American Native Plants, Quakertown, PA:

American Native Nursery offers wholesale pricing on open-pollinated, 100% ecotyped native plugs and liners; foundation seed can be wild-collected from Massachusetts to Tennessee.

 

Earth Tones Native Plant Nursery and Landscapes, Woodbury, CT:

Earth Tones provides live perennials, grasses, ferns, trees and shrubs native to New England. They do not ship plants out of the region.

 

Ernst Conservation Seed, Meadville, PA:

Offers Xerces-reviewed seed mixes for pollinator conservation projects. 

Ernst sells a diversity of eastern ecotype native wildflower and grass seeds, as well as planting material of trees and shrubs.

 

Fiddlehead Creek Native Plant Nursery, Hartford, NY:

Fiddlehead offers plantings of herbaceous perennials, grasses, groundcovers, and shrubs native to New York. Fieldstone Gardens, Inc., Vassalboro, ME: This nursery sells on-site or ships container vines and perennials native to New England.

 

Found Well Farm, Pembroke, NH:

Found Well Farm is a retail nursery that provides live perennials, trees and shrubs native to New Hampshire.

 

Maine Wild Seed Project, Bluehill, ME:

A non-profit organization that specializes in Maine native plants and offers wild-type seed of woodland, meadow and wetland species.

 

Native Haunts, Alfred, ME:

Native Haunts specializes in seeds and live plants of trees, shrubs, and perennials including ferns and sedges that are native to Maine and New England.

 

Native Landscapes & Garden Center, Pawling, NY:

Native Landscapes is a retail garden center that sells (on-site only) garden varieties of native perennials, shrubs, and trees native to New England.

 

New England Wetland Plants, Inc., Amherst, MA:

NEWP, Inc. is a native plant nursery that specializes in moisture loving native plants and also offers a variety of seed mixes. Wholesale only.

 

Pan's Acres Nursery LLC, Canterbury, CT:

Pan's Acres offers native New England perennials and trees and shrubs, available by mail-order or for pick-up.

 

Pinelands Nursery, Columbus, NJ:

Pinelands Nursery is a wholesale supplier of native trees, shrubs and herbaceous species in the Northeast, carrying both plants and seeds.

 

Project Native, Housatonic, MA:

A non-profit organization that cultivates and sells (on-site only) Berkshire native perennial plants, shrubs, vines, grasses and also offers seed mixes.

 

River Berry Farm, Fairfax, VT:

River Berry Farm, a family-owned organic small fruit and vegetable farm, also sells native wildflowers, shrubs, and trees.

 

That’s a Plenty Farm, Hadley, MA:

That's a Plenty Farm, a small family-owned permaculture farm, sells bulk quantities of various milkweed (Asclepias spp.) seed varieties, as well as packets of native seeds for pollinator gardeners.

 

Toadshade Wildflower Farm, Frenchtown, NJ:

Toadshade provides nursery propagated perennial wildflowers native to the Northeastern US.

 

Turtle Tree Seed, Copake, NY:

Turtle Tree Seed is the oldest biodynamic seed company in the United States, with 288 varieties of vegetables, grains, herbs, flowers and ornamentals.

 

Northeastern Native Seed Mix:

Produced by Ernst Conservation Seeds, this mix includes high quality native perennial wildflowers that are highly attractive to pollinators, and appropriate for habitat restoration in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, northern New York, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Also included is a native bunch grass that provides nesting habitat for bumble bee and other beneficial insects.

 

Further Reading

Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS)

The NRCS is one of Xerces’ most important partners in pollinator conservation. For over a decade, Xerces has helped train NRCS conservation planners, helped to develop 100s of conservation plans, implemented dozens of demonstration projects, and worked together closely to help implement the pollinator conservation provisions of the U.S. Farm Bill. 

 

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.