What's the buzz about pollinators? 

We rely on them to pollinate the crops that feed us and to support healthy ecosystems that all living things need. Bees and butterflies are well-known, but birds, bats, moths, flies, beetles, wasps, and small mammals are pollinators too! 

Protecting an endangered speciesrusty patched bumble bee on liatris

Meet Minnesota’s State Bee, the rusty patched bumble bee. Named for its rust-colored mark, it is native to this region and is important to wildflower and crop pollination.

In 2017 it was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, becoming the first bee on the list. It has declined from approximately 87% of its historic range in the East and Upper Midwest, from habitat loss, intensive farming, pesticide use, disease, and climate change. 

The rusty patched bumble bee (and many other pollinators) is our neighbor here in Burnsville. It was first sighted in 2018 at the Civic Center Prairie. In 2019 it was sighted in a new location, at a City park through a staff-lead survey. It has even been seen by residents in their gardens.     

Plant for pollinators

Your yard can benefit pollinators through a few simple gardening practices: 

  1. Native plants - Planting with native plants has a high benefit to pollinators. Find out more on our native plants page.
  2. Larval host plants - Plant species that are known host plants for larvae. For example, milkweed is the host plant for monarch caterpillars. 
  3. Bloom time - Select native plants that bloom at different times. Pollinators emerge in early spring and are active through the fall. They need flowers throughout the season to feed on. 
  4. Protect from pesticides - There are many ways to reduce pesticide use and adopt best practices for pollinator protection, while still maintaining a beautiful garden.   
  5. Garden maintenance- To provide important nesting/overwintering habitat for bees: 
    • Leave pithy-stemmed plants and grasses upright over winter. Cut back in the spring when temperatures are consistently above 50 degrees after most bees have emerged. 
    • Leave some areas un-raked. 
    • Keep fallen branches or logs. 

For more ideas, visit our environmentally-friendly landscaping page. 


  • Attend the summer Pollinator Workshop and fall Native Planting & Pollinator Lawn Workshop (stay tuned to the Natural Resources homepage for updated event info).
  • Neighborhood Water Resources Enhancement Grant - Apply for funding from the City for water quality projects (that will help pollinators too).
  • Submit sightings of the rusty patched bumble bee through Bumble Bee Watch.
  • Check out this great planting for pollinators resource from the Board of Water and Soil Resources.
  • Lawns to Legumes - Funding source to install pollinator habitat in your yard. Sign up for updates on future funding.
grey-headed coneflower
bumble bee on bee balm