Minnesota Bumble Bee Atlas
Minnesota Bumble Bee Atlas: Training packet

Bumble bee identification

Plant identification

1. Minnesota Wildflowers (online resource)
2. Wildflowers of Minnesota by Steve Tekiela
3. Newcomb's Wildflower Guide
4. Common Backyard Weeds of the Upper Midwest by Teresa Marrone
5. Minnesota Flora by Steve Chadde
6. Plant Snap app
7. iNaturalist mobile app/Seek mobile app

Survey location and weather resources

1. Google Map of Grid Cells
2. Avenza Maps app (download Motor Vehicle Use Map – “MVUM”) to find public access roads.This is especially helpful if you are surveying on US Forest Service property. This app will show you which roads are legal to drive on within the forest, you are free to walk anywhere. 4WD is needed for most USFS roads.
3. To record latitude and longitude when conducting a survey, ensure your smart device's location services are turned on, open Google Maps or other mapping service, zoom in as close as you can to your current location, and "drop a pin" by pressing and holding on the map. Coordinates of your location will then appear on the smart device, with an option to save or not. Coordinates need to be submitted as Decimal Degrees, but there are online conversion tools if your coordinates are in a different format.
4. Weather apps are very practical to have on your smart device when conducting a survey, though it is possible to find weather information elsewhere.

Collecting supplies

1.  Nets: Home Science Tools, or search the internet for "aerial insect net"
2. Vials: We like to use 50ml plastic vials, because they are light weight, small, and chill relatively quickly, making them ideal for survey trips. However, many items that are easily found around the house can work for this purpose, such as empty jars or containers, just make sure they are thoroughly washed
3.  Camera: The best type of camera for surveys are digital cameras that have a macro setting, and there are many to choose from! We like to use the Olympus TG-5 or TG-6 mainly because it has an amazing macro setting, GPS capabilities, and has immense durability for use in the field. Smartphones work well if your camera remains focused as you zoom, and if desired, you can easily enhance your smartphone photos by purchasing a macro lens attachment. These lens attachments are relatively easy to find on the internet, be sure it is a macro lens that fits your phone model.


Spending time outdoors in public spaces brings with it special safety concerns. Here are some suggestions and resources to help you stay safe.

Don't go it alone. It is safer to have someone else with you to help you with unforeseen circumstances such as injuries or car problems. You can use our private Facebook group, open only to volunteers and staff, to find a survey partner. If you do plan on going out on your own, make sure that someone knows where you are going and make plans to check in when you are done. If you need someone from the Atlas to be that person, please let us know. Be aware that not all survey locations will have cell service. 

Be prepared for medical problems. Stash a mini-medical kit in your field bag, with a more complete one in your car. 

Prevent problems.  Protect yourself from disease-bearing animals and poisonous plants, especially wild parsnip. Prevent dehydration and heat-stroke. For more safety tips, review this list of field safety resources from the UMN Department of Environmental Health & Safety.

Roadside safety. If you are surveying along a roadside, be careful to park in a designated parking area, or if parking on the shoulder of a road, leave your 4-way flashers on. We also recommend wearing a safety vest while surveying in roadsides.

BIPOC and LGBTQ people can face more hassasment than straight, white people in outdoor spaces. We suggest that everyone place a copy of the Atlas sign on your dashboard while you survey, and carry one with you on your clipboard, but it may be more important for our BIPOC and LGBTQ volunteers to be able to show this proof of their reason for being in outdoor spaces.