Minnesota Bumble Bee Atlas
Minnesota Bumble Bee Atlas: FAQ

Want to learn more about pollinators and how to help?

Check out the resources at the University of Minnesota Bee Lab and the University of Minnesota Extension

Frequently asked questions

Special care is needed with handling of all bumble bees, but those volunteers surveying in areas where you are more likely to find B. affinis (in grids adjacent to recent observations), should be particularly careful.  If a possible B. affinis is noticed during collection, pause your timer. Review the "Rusty Patched Bumble Bee Identification" video on the online training page or this identification guide.  If upon looking more closely you still think it could be B. affinis, photograph and release as soon as possible. Report to Elaine Evans with photos and location as soon as possible (evan0155@umn.edu). You can also contact the Minnesota Bumble Bee Atlas (mnbumblebee@umn.edu). Elaine is responsible for reporting these finds to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and may need to update survey protocols for affected grid cells.

Please review the rusty patched bumble bee training video on our Online Training page

If a rusty patched bumble bee is found on private property, that sighting will update the map maintained by the USFWS to show where rusty patched bumble bees are likely to occur. Endangered species status protects individual bees from direct harm (or people face fines), but there is no mandatory protection for habitat on private land. If there is construction or other habitat disturbance on state or federal lands, or projects with federal funding support, in areas known to house rusty patched bumble bees, those projects are obligated to consult with the USFWS to minimize their impact on rusty patched bumble bees.

Not all route stops will have bumble bee activity. If you find no bumble bees within your survey, fill in all the other details on your data sheet and note that no bumble bees were found. Be sure to enter these data on the Bee Atlas website as well. These data are very important for our understanding of bumble bee populations. You can switch to another location within your grid cell for your second survey, but please complete the minimum of two surveys within your adopted grid cell.

Yes. You can adopt as many grid cells as you can manage to survey. We especially encourage adoption of grid cells not yet adopted by anyone. Another great way to add data is to conduct more than three surveys within one grid cell.

Yes. Any bumble bee anywhere in North America can be added to Bumble Bee Watch.

Plant areas with flowers that bloom from April through September. Make messy areas, with sticks, leaf piles, dried grass to encourage bumble bee nesting. Raised beds on top of stick and leaf piles are a great way to do this in yards with limited space. Keep pesticides, including insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides away from areas used by bees, both flowers and nesting areas. Take climate action. Plant native flowers with deep roots, eat more plant-based foods, support smaller local economies, use clean energy, and support regulations to keep us on track to a stable climate future. Tell your friends, family, and co-workers about the importance of bumble bees and what they can do to help. Sigh up for Pollinator Ambassador toolkit to help you spread the good word.

Yes. If there is anything preventing your participation in the Atlas that the project managers might be able to help you with, please contact us.