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Wisconsin Native Bees - - Welcome!

Wisconsin bees provides a resource for native been idenfitcation, images and detailed profiles. That buzz you hear in the garden are native bees pollinating our Wisconsin flowers and plants. About 60% of all the food you place on your table is the result of pollination. Get to know these workhorses.

A sustained drop in honey bee populations has farmers and orchardists making backup plans to ensure their crops are adequately pollinated. A key to keeping crops fruitful and flowers blooming is building up Wisconsin native bee populations. There are nearly 4,000 other wild bee species that are native to the continent and fully 500 Wisconsin native bee species, many of which equal or surpass the honey bee's efficiency in pollinating crops and native plants.

Encourage a variety of nesting sites. Though we think of bees as social insects that live in hives with highly-organized social structures, most bee species are more solitary and almost 70 percent of native bee species nest in the ground or near the ground rather than in exposed hives. The female bees either excavate nest tunnels with a series of brood chambers or use existing holes or burrows bored by insects, worms or rodents into soil or under tree bark. The females place a mix of pollen and nectar in each brood cell, lay an egg and plaster over the cell with mud or little bits of leaves. The adult female bees live only a few weeks and die after the nest area is complete. The eggs hatch, become larvae, pupate and emerge as adults either the same year or the following season depending on the species.

Conserving the habitats and plants these native bee species use is an important strategy for sustaining adequate numbers of plant pollinators where honey bee populations are naturally lower, have dropped off significantly or are in short supply.

Planting to attract bees. Use local native plants. Research shows native plants are four times more attractive to native bees and butterflies than exotics. In gardens, heirloom varieties of herbs and perennials also provide good foraging.

Choose several colors of flowers of differing heights. Native bees are particularly attracted to blue, purple, violet, white and yellow blooms. Plant flowers in clumps. Clusters of flowers attract more pollinators than individual blossoms. Clumps four feet or more in diameter are particularly attractive to bees.

Include flowers of different shapes. Wisconsin bees have different sizes, different body shapes, different tongue lengths and consequently choose different shaped flowers. Variety will attract a greater mix of species.

Building to attract a buzz. About 70 percent of our Wisconsin bees live in the ground in old tunnels, snags or similar locations, but they will adapt to manmade structures or enhanced nesting spots if the site is a comfortable fit. Here are some simple projects you can do. Here is a simple project you can do to provide Wisconsin bee nesting habitat.


Find a beekeeping club in your area. Joining a beekeeping club is a great way to learn more about bees and beekeeping. It is extremely useful to join a local beekeeping group and meet experienced beekeepers.


The Spring Wild Bees of Wisconsin Guide is designed to help you identify wild bees commonly found in Wisconsin in the spring and early summer. You can choose to identify bees using either picture of description.


Mason bees are the most effective pollinators. Just two or three females can pollinate a mature apple tree! Encourage Mason Bees in your garden by building a Mason Bee House or order online.