About Pollinators at St. Thomas

How To Watch for Pollinators

Looking for pollinators is easy--just stop for a few seconds and focus on movement instead of the colorful flowers.  Within seconds, you will see all the insect activity taking place on and around the plants.

Pollinators on campus fall generally into these types:  honey bees (non-native, but still very important), native bees (including bumblebees), wasps, syrphid flies, butterflies and moths and beetles.  In the natural world, many other animals, including larger ones like birds, bats, rodents, lizards, etc. also pollinate plants.  However, these pollinators do not play an important role in pollinating the plants we have on the St. Thomas campus.  

 ‌honey bee for web

Honey bees

  • Hairy golden yellow with striped abdomen
  • Oval eyes on the side of the head
  • Long antennae
  • Do not hover
  • Two pairs of wings often clipped together
  • Honey bees are generalists in terms of the types of flowers they visit.
  • This is bee most people think about when they hear the word "bee".
  • This honeybee is on a Swamp Milkweed flower.
‌‌‌bumblebee for web

Native bees:  Bumblebees

  • Generally stockier and more heavy-bodied than honey bees, can be quite large
  • Oval eyes on the side of the head
  • Hairy yellow and black, sometimes with red stripes
  • Long antennae
  • Do not hover
  • Two pair of wings often clipped together
  • Bumblebees are also generalists in terms of the types of flowers they visit.
  • MN has 20 different species of bumblebees.
  • Photo shows a bumble bee on an annual Salvia.
carder bee

Native bees:  Others

  • Similar to honey bees in size or can be small to tiny
  • Many types:  carpenter bees, miner bees, sweat bees and carder bees to name a few
  • Often specialized pollinators
  • Oval eyes on the side of the head
  • Hairy
  • Long antennae
  • Can be striped, black, or multi-colored
  • Do not hover
  • Two pair of wings often clipped together
  • Photo shows a carder bee on an annual Salvia.

 

 ‌wasp for web

Wasps

  • Long and skinny compared to bees
  • Not hairy
  • Can be striped or all one color
  • Long antennae
  • Long legs
  • Oval eyes on the side of the head
 ‌fly for web

Syrphid flies

  • Very small
  • Often hover around flowers
  • Very short antennae
  • One pair of wings--often held straight out from body
  • Eyes almost meet at the top of the head
  • This fly is visiting an annual Salvia.
 ‌butterfly for about pollinators

Butterflies and moths

  • Need little explanation
  • Note that there are a few day-flying moths.
  • This is a red admiral butterfly on an Echinacea flower.
 beetle

 Beetles

  • Have comparatively small heads
  • Keep wings covered. 
  • This is a soldier beetle on a Black-eyed Susan. 

 

Learn More

Books

  • Pollinator Friendly Gardening by Rhonda Fleming Hayes (Voyageur Press) 
  • Bees: An Identification and Native Plant Forage Guide by Heather Holm (Pollination Press)
  • Attracting Native Pollinators by The Xerces Society (Storey Press)

Websites