Bees pollinate our plants, which means they carry pollen between plants of different sexes to fertilize them, or even between different parts of the same plant, which help plants reproduce. Bees even help plants survive by preventing inbreeding.
Alma Schrage visited Natives Haven Nursery on two occasions in July of 2022 to photograph bumblebees and to see if any endangered rusty- patched bumblebees can be found. Alma works as a student contractor for the United States Geological Survey and Citizens for Conservation monitoring for the rusty-patched bumblebee in an effort to find new locations where they are present.
Below are her findings:
"The species I saw at Natives Haven are listed below from most common to rarest for Illinois:
1. Eastern bumblebee (Bombus impatiens)
2. Brown-belted bumblebee (Bombus griseocollis)
3. Two-spotted bumblebee (Bombus bimaculatus)
4. Black and gold bumblebee (Bombus auricomus)
5. Red-belted bumblebee (Bombus rufocinctus)
6. Golden northern bumblebee (Bombus fervidus)
7. Half-black bumblebee (Bombus vagans)
8. American bumblebee (Bombus pensylvanicus)
I found a total of 8 different bumblebee species at Natives Haven, which is very impressive considering that your site is quite small (normally you find that level of diversity in larger natural areas specifically set aside for wildlife conservation that have undergone several years of restoration work), so it’s a testament to the abundance and diversity of native plants you have growing at Natives Haven. You also had many other native solitary bees such as small carpenter bees (Ceratina sp), metallic sweat bees (Augochlora sp., Lasioglossum sp) that I noticed but didn't have time to photograph. As well as a lot of other fauna!
While I didn’t find rusty-patched bumblebee, I did document the American bumblebee (Bombus pensylvanicus), the half-black bumblebee (Bombus vagans), and the golden northern bumblebee (Bombus fervidus) which are all thought to be declining. B. pensylvanicus in particular is as rare as rusty- patched in northern Illinois, but tends to be found in more open areas. Rusty- patched likes open areas but also are attracted to some woodland (but with lots of openings for flowers). However, I should stress there are always exceptions to every rule.
That said, I did find a rusty-patched bumblebee a few miles from your place, so they are in the area – they change nesting locations from year to year, so you definitely have a good chance of seeing them at the nursery at some point if you keep an eye out. I’ve attached a basic field guide to the bumblebee species you might see in case you are interested in photographing and identifying them yourself."