Saving the home of a native bee

A rusty patched bumble bee on Culver’s root at Turkey Creek Nature Preserve. The bee was federally protected in 2017, but more needs to be done to protect its habitat.

In 2017, gaining federally protected status was a win for an important native pollinator, the rusty patched bumble bee. The victory was short lived when the option to also protect the bee’s habitat federally was rejected. As legal action to guarantee protected habitat is ongoing, Bur Oak Land Trust does the work to save the places where these bees can thrive.

The rusty patched bumble bee is a crucial pollinator native to eastern North America. Over time it has disappeared from 87 percent of its range due to habitat loss and other factors. Preferred habitat includes prairie, woodlands and marshes. Rusty patched bumble bees can also be found in agricultural areas and even backyards and gardens, which is where Bur Oak Land Trust Executive Director Jason Taylor first saw one.

The worker and male bees have the namesake patch on their second abdomen.

Taylor knows that habitat protection is key to the survival of the species and that the rusty patched bumble bee can’t be safeguarded by its endangered status alone. Last year, Taylor joined the Natural Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) legal effort to save more rusty patched bumble bee habitat. The NRDC along with its partners are still locked in an ongoing court battle with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to demand federal protections for bee habitat. The NRDC is also pushing to ban neonics, neurotoxic insecticides that are wiping out many insect populations including rusty patched bumble bees.

By restoring land to a native state, Bur Oak Land Trust is creating more habitat for the rusty patched bumble bee and improving biodiversity at its preserves.

How you can support rusty patched bumble bees

Learn to identify rusty patched bumble bees and record your findings at

Include favorite rusty patched bumble bee plants in your yard.

Culver’s root

Support Bur Oak Land Trust’s mission of advancing biodiversity and protecting resilient landscapes by connecting people to nature.


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