Pollinator Conservation Resources – US & Canada

The pollinator resources found on this page support habitat restoration in the mainland U.S. and Canada.

For a directory of regional resources, please click here. For questions, comments, or to suggest additional content, please email pollinators@xerces.org.

Recommended Pollinator Plants

Improving Forage for Native Bee Crop Pollinators (USDA National Agroforestry Center)
An in-depth guide to enhancing floral resources for native bees, with an emphasis on the selection of bee-friendly trees and shrubs

Plants Attractive to Native Bees (USDA Agricultural Research Service)
A list of widely distributed plant genera that both are commonly cultivated and broadly attractive to bees.

Gardening for Native Bees in North America (USDA Agricultural Research Service)
An overview of how to choose plants for garden settings to encourage bees.

Native Plant Profiles and Lists (Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center: web site resource)
The Xerces Society has collaborated with the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center to create plant lists that are attractive to native bees, bumble bees, honey bees, and other beneficial insects, as well as plant lists with value as nesting materials for native bees. These lists can be narrowed down with additional criteria such as state, soil moisture, bloom time, and sunlight requirements.

Regional Milkweed Guides A series of regional guides to the native milkweeds of North America, developed in cooperation with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Monarch Nectar Plant Guides While native milkweed is critical to support of monarch breeding, these regional guides were created to address a need for evidence-based, monarch-specific nectar plants throughout the U.S. These guides were developed in partnership with the Monarch Joint Venture and National Wildlife Federation and are geared toward gardeners and landscape designers but are also be useful for land managers who are implementing large-scale monarch restoration projects.

Native Thistles: A Conservation Practitioner’s Guide Native thistles are a wrongly-maligned and often misunderstood group of native plants that provide significant value to pollinators. Our guide aims to provide the information necessary to return native thistles to their rightful place in the landscape, identifying native thistles from across North America, and providing information on their cultivation, management, and ecological benefits.

Pollinator Conservation Seed Mix Calculator (The Xerces Society)
Develop your own pollinator conservation seed mix using this seed rate calculator.

Farm Conservation Guides

Pollinator Habitat Assessment Form and Guide (The Xerces Society) This habitat assessment form and guide enables you to assess specific pollinator habitat features before and after project implementation in both orchard and field crop settings.

Farming for Bees (The Xerces Society)
This booklet outlines ways to protect and enhance habitat for native crop pollinators in the farm landscape. It includes advice on simple changes that can be made in farm management for the benefit of native bees, as well as how to create important habitat features.

Organic farming practices: Reducing harm to pollinators (The Xerces Society)
Guidelines that rank the impact of various farming practices to native bees.

Pollinator Management for Organic Seed Producers (The Xerces Society)
These guidelines provide clear strategies for conserving pollinators, managing crop isolation distances, and reducing unintended outcrossing between organic and non-organic seed crops.

Using Farm Bill Programs for Pollinator Conservation (USDA-NRCS)
These guidelines provide a concise summary of how Farm Bill conservation programs, such as the Environmental Quality Incentive Program or the Conservation Reserve Program, can be used to restore or enhance habitat for pollinators on working farms and private lands.

Sustaining Native Bee Habitat for Crop Pollination (USDA National Agroforestry Center)
An overview of how to provide habitat for crop-pollinating native bees in agroforestry settings.

Alternative Pollinators: Native Bees (ATTRA)
This publication provides information and resources on how to plan for, protect and create habitat for native bees in agricultural settings. The handbook includes a description of common native bee groups, nest management guidelines, wildflower recommendations, farm case studies, and other resources.

Conservation Guides for Gardens, Parks and Natural Areas

Attracting Native Pollinators. Protecting North America’s Bees and Butterflies (The Xerces Society)
Now in its second printing, Attracting Native Pollinators reflects the latest understanding about conserving pollinator habitat. Illustrated with hundreds of color photographs and dozens of specially created illustrations this book is divided into four sections: pollinators and pollination, taking action, bees of North America, and creating a pollinator-friendly landscape.

Pollinators in Natural Areas (The Xerces Society)
This primer provides a summary of how land and wildlife managers can account for the habitat needs of pollinators. This 8-page booklet provides a series of recommendations for land managers on how tools such as fire, grazing, mowing, herbicides, and insecticides can be adjusted to benefit pollinators.

Pollinator-Friendly Parks. How to Enhance Parks, Gardens, and other Greenspaces for Native Pollinator Insects (The Xerces Society)
These guidelines offer practical advice about providing habitat for native bees and butterflies in all types of parks and greenspaces. It includes advice on choosing plants that offer nectar and pollen, hostplants for caterpillars, and creating nest sites for solitary bees-in all types of parks.

Making Room for Native Pollinators. How to Create Habitat for Pollinator Insects on Golf Courses (The Xerces Society)
Published by the U.S. Golf Association in 2002. Maintaining pollinator populations is one of the most valuable ways in which a course can contribute to a healthy environment. These guidelines offer tips for providing habitat for native bees.

Pollinator Conservation: Three Simple Steps to Help Bees and Butterflies (The Xerces Society)
This fact sheet provides an overview on the importance of pollinators and outlines three simple steps that you can do to help conserve bees and butterflies.

Habitat Restoration Guides

Pollinator Habitat Installation Guides (The Xerces Society)
These regional guidelines provide in-depth practical guidance on how to install nectar and pollen habitat for bees in the form of wildflower meadow plantings or linear rows of native flowering shrubs.

Establishing Pollinator Meadows from Seed (The Xerces Society)
Establishing wildflower habitat for pollinators is the single most effective course of action to conserve pollinators that can be taken by anyone at any scale. These guidelines provide step-by-step instructions for establishing pollinator meadows from seed in areas that range in size from a small backyard garden up to areas around an acre. Use this document with pollinator plant list applicable to your region.

Pesticide Guides

Organic-Approved Pesticides: Minimizing Risks to Pollinators (The Xerces Society)
Guidelines that rank the toxicity of common, organic-approved pesticides to native bees.

Preventing Negative Impacts of Pesticides on Pollinators (USDA-NRCS)
This USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) manual provides NRCS state offices and IPM professionals with guidance on conservation strategies that can reduce the risk of pesticides to bees in farm landscapes.

Pesticide Considerations for Native Bees in Agroforestry (USDA National Agroforestry Center)
An article highlighting how to reduce bee poisoning from pesticides.

How to Reduce Bee Poisoning from Pesticides (Oregon State University)
A publication listing common agricultural pesticides and their known effects on multiple bee species.

Ecological Pest Management Database (ATTRA)
An online database that helps users select reduced risk pesticides for the protection of beneficial insects.

Native Bee Nest Management Guides

Managing Alternative Pollinators: A Handbook for Beekeepers, Growers, and Conservationists (SARE)
A first of its kind, step-by-step, full color guide for rearing and managing bumblebees, mason bees, leafcutter bees, and other honey bee alternatives. Free download; 162 pages.

Nests for Native Bees (The Xerces Society)
A resource to that describes techniques used to make nests for native bees.

Tunnel Nest Construction and Management (The Xerces Society)
Guidelines on the construction and maintenance of nest sites for tunnel nesting native bees.

Build a Nesting Board (USDA Agriculture Research Center)
Instructions on how to construct a drilled nest board for leafcutter and mason bees. Includes extensive color photos of the construction process.

Reed Nests (USDA Agriculture Research Center)
Instructions on how to cut and assemble bundled reed nests using the common reed (Phragmites australis).

Stick Nests (USDA Agriculture Research Center)
An illustrated guide to constructing stick nests and stake nests for wood nesting bees such as mason bees, leafcutter bees, and various carpenter bees.

Bee Identification and Monitoring Resources

Streamlined Bee Monitoring Protocol
Developed the University of California, Davis, Rutgers University, Michigan State University, and The Xerces Society, this guide provides instructions for assessing pollinator habitat quality and diversity by monitoring native bees. It was developed for conservationists, farmers, land managers, and restoration professionals to document how native bee communities change through time in pollinator habitats. It includes an introduction to bee identification, a detailed monitoring protocol, and data sheets for different habitat types.

Evaluating Quality of Citizen-Scientist Data on Pollinator Communities (Conservation Biology)
This research paper evaluates the utility of citizen-science observational data.

BugGuide (Iowa State University)
BugGuide is an online community of naturalists who share photographs of bugs from the United States and Canada for identification and research. Site visitors can submit their own photos for identification assistance.

Discover Life (American Museum of Natural History)
Discover Life hosts interactive species guides provide identification support for North American bees in the states and provinces east of the Mississippi River. Work is ongoing to add additional species guides for bees from the rest of North American and the world.

Great Sunflower Project (San Francisco State University)
The Great Sunflower Project is a citizen-science monitoring effort to gather information about urban, suburban and rural bee populations across the U.S. and Canada. Participants plant sunflowers in their garden, then submit the results of a once weekly 15 minute observation of bee activity. The website offers guides to common bee groups of North America.

Assessing the Pollination of Your Watermelon (Rutgers University)
A set of tools that will help you estimate the percentage pollination you are receiving in your watermelon field and the relative contribution of the different types of bees to the pollination of your crop. Guides and monitoring data sheets available for the Eastern and Western U.S.

Policy

Policy Analysis Paper: Policy Mainstreaming of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services with a Focus on Pollination (Berkeley Food Institute)
The Berkeley Food Institute collaborated with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to author this publication. It considers the mainstreaming of ecosystem services at both national and international levels, with a focus on pollination services. Following work undertaken through the GEF/UNEP/FAO Global Pollination Project, and through funding from the Norwegian Environment Agency, this publication addresses the interface between science and policy as a contribution to the work of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

Supporting the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators
This set of guidelines, released as a follow-up to the President’s Memorandum on pollinator health, is a supplement to older guidance on sustainable management of landscapes. The guidance will help Federal agencies incorporate pollinator friendly practices into new federal construction and landscaping projects. Click here to download the guidelines, or read more at WhiteHouse.gov

Newsletter

Sign up for our newsletter to receive up to date information about our programs and events.

Contact Us

Email us with your questions and comments about pollinator conservation.

Learn About Your Landscape:
Take Action!
Sign the Pledge!

Sign the pledge and take action to help protect pollinators and their essential habitats! Learn more.

Pollinator Conservation Resource Center


The Resource Center is where you can find regional information about plant lists, habitat conservation guides, and more. Learn more.

Pollinator Conservation Seed Mixes


Our partners in the native seed industry are offering specially designed, Xerces-approved wildflower seed mixes. Learn more.

Plant Milkweed Seed!


Milkweeds support monarch butterflies, native bees, honey bees, and other beneficial insects. Search for sources of milkweed seed now!