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Extension is expanding its online education and resources while in-person events and classes are canceled.

Minnesota Bee Atlas

What is the Minnesota Bee Atlas?

bee with light grey hair on a red flower
Long-horned bee, native to Minnesota, on a flower in Minneapolis.

Funded by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund (ENRTF), the Minnesota Bee Atlas is a research project that relies on citizen science volunteers to learn more about the distribution and diversity of native bees in Minnesota. 

Volunteer observations, combined with historical records from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the University of Minnesota Insect Collection, provide important information on which bees live here and where they can be found. 

Phase one of the Bee Atlas is now complete. From 2015-2019, our volunteers documented over 25,000 bees in Minnesota. They submitted photos of bees to iNaturalist, adopted roadside survey routes to capture, identify and release bumble bees, and monitored nesting blocks for stem-nesting bees.

Data from the Bee Atlas is available as a part of the Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas. You can also read more about individual bumble bee species at the bee species guide and learn about all the insects that called our bee blocks home.

Black and yellow bee on purple flower

How can I be involved?

Although phase one of the Bee Atlas is complete, you can still share your photos of bees on iNaturalist. You don’t have to be a bee expert; just upload your photo with an accurate date and location and other users will help you identify what you have seen. 

If you would like to be notified with future volunteer opportunities, sign up here.



Using your own nesting blocks

If you are interested in putting up a bee block in your yard to observe and host cavity-nesting bees, there are many companies offering pre-made bee houses. You can also build your own bee house, using the directions in the publication Native Bees, Solitary Bees, and Wild Bees: What are they?

Although we are limited in the number of larvae we can rear and cannot accept additional blocks, we welcome observations of your backyard bee nests. If you see bees using your bee house you can submit pictures the same way you would for “Anecdotal observations” or post them on our Facebook page. Even if you don’t see bees going in and out of the nest, you will be able to see if they are using the nest you provided. You can share your observations any time you notice something interesting or just at the end of the summer when the bees have finished building their nests.

Funding for this project was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR).

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