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Evanston Host Plant Initiative

Native Flowers for the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee

Evanston Host Plant Initiative for Rusty Patch Bumblebee



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Take our research survey

We are interested in how people's gardens and yards can impact pollinators and the ecosystem. Click here for the link to participate in a survey & contribute to the research for this project. It will include questions about your opinions and experiences with gardening, yards, and bees. Thanks for your support! 

About this community science project

We partner with community scientists to use iNaturalist to inventory existing host plants and new host plants that they grow to help conserve the endangered Rusty Patched Bumble Bee and other important pollinators. Our research primarily takes place in Evanston, IL, but we welcome anyone to participate!

The Rusty Patched Bumble Bee

This important pollinator was once common in the Chicago area and 30 other states and provinces, but its population has declined over 87% in the last 20 years because of pathogen spillover, habitat loss, pesticide use, and climate change. Bumble bees are important pollinators for native flowers and the crops that we eat, and they provide many benefits for people and the ecosystem.

You can bee a host!

Native wildflowers organically grown in residential yards and urban green spaces can provide significant foraging resources for pollinators. The Rusty Patched Bumble Bee relies on 38 flowering host plants, many of which are common in yards. You can create habitat in your yard by growing host plants that bloom throughout the season, eliminating pesticide and chemical use, and letting sticks and leaves remain.

Rusty Patched Bumble Bee Plant Guide

Help us assess and create habitat by:

 Documenting existing host plants
 Growing new host plants
• Observing bees

Rusty Patch Bumble Bee

Rusty Patched Bumble Bee Identification:

The Rusty Patched Bumble bee can be identified by a thumbtack shaped black marking and a distinctive rusty colored back on their backs.







U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service - Rusty Patched Bumble Bee Midwest Plant Guide
Documentary - A Ghost in The Making: Searching for the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee
• Xerces Society - Species Profile and Identification Guide

In the news:

Chicago Tribune - The endangered rusty patched bumblebee is at the center of a legal challenge over habitat that conservationists say it needs to survive
Natural Resources Defense Council - Chicago, a "Sweet Home" for an Endangered Bee? 
• Daily Northwestern - Evanston Host Plant Initiative works to save endangered bee species
• Evanston RoundTable - Community Science Project Hopes to Draw Endangered Bumble Bee to Evanston Gardens
• DePaul Newsline - Saving the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee, One Plant at a Time
• Fox 32 - How you can save the bees one plant at a time

Plant sales:

Shady Grove Wildflower Farm at the Evanston Farmer’s Market
Possibility Place
Pollinator Prairie Patch                                                                                                                                       

This project was funded in part by:

Illinois Native Plant Society
Steans Graduate Fellowship
• DePaul Graduate Research Fund

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