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University of Minnesota Extension

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.

The Minnesota Bee Atlas is a research project that relies on 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. 

From 2015 through 2019, 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

Get involved

Phase two of the Bee Atlas will begin in spring 2022. This project will use DNA analysis to identify the plants used by stem-nesting bees to construct their nests. Volunteers will be needed to host and observe stem nests from April to October.

In the meantime, you can 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.

Learn more about how to identify bumble bees to the species level.

Sign up to be notified of this and other volunteer opportunities with native bees.

Sign up

Funding for this project is 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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