You are here

Evanston Host Plant Initiative

Native Flowers for the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee

Evanston Host Plant Initiative for Rusty Patch Bumblebee




About this community science project

We partner with community scientists to grow and inventory host plants for the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee. By uploading photos of plants and bees to iNaturalist, you can contribute to research to assess and conserve habitat for the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee and other important pollinators. 

The Rusty Patched Bumble Bee

This native pollinator was once common in the Chicago area and 30 other states and provinces in the Midwestern and Eastern United States and Canada. 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:

 Growing host plants
 Uploading photos of plants and bees to iNaturalist

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.







Rusty Patched Bumble Bee & iNaturalist resources - Host Plant Network
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service - Rusty Patched Bumble Bee
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                                                                                                                                       


Sign up here! - Rusty Patched Bumble Bee Project

Sign up for updates and to get involved!
Select all that apply
6 + 2 =
More information?