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Evanston Host Plant Initiative

Evanston Host Plant Initiative

Bee a host: Grow wildflowers for the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee


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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. 

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.

Help us assess and create habitat by:
 Documenting existing host plants
 Growing new host plants
• Observing pollinator visitors


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 bumblee 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?

Plant sales:

Bird Buzz Native Plant Sale by the EEA & NHE (Host plants listed as *RPBB*)

Shady Grove Wildflower Farm

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Sign up here! - Rusty Patched Bumble Bee Project

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