State Fair event highlights new state bee designation

Special event included commemorative poster giveaway

State officials, bee experts and a free limited edition commemorative poster highlighted a special state bee event Aug. 29 at the Department of Natural Resources’ exhibit at the Minnesota State Fair. 

The event celebrated the benefits of designating the rusty patched bumblebee, a federally endangered species, as the Minnesota state bee.

In May, Gov. Tim Walz signed the measure authored by Rep. Rick Hansen and approved by the 2019 Legislature.

Designating a state bee helps protect the rusty patched bumblebee and other pollinators in Minnesota.

“Our state is one of only 10 where the rusty patched bumblebee is still found, after being lost in 90 percent of its historic range,” said DNR invertebrate ecologist Jessica Petersen. “The designation raises awareness that many pollinator species are in decline, and some of our native bee and butterfly species are now in danger of extinction. The good news is, many individuals and state agencies are taking steps to help them.”

The event included comments from Rep. Hansen, DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen, Board of Water and Soil Resources Executive Director John Jaschke and University of Minnesota Bee Lab entomologist Elaine Evans.

DNR pollinator expert Jessica Petersen delivered a fun and informative presentation about bees and other pollinators and simple things people can do to help them. A limited edition commemorative poster featuring the rusty patched bumblebee was given away to fairgoers.

Pollinators are vital to a healthy environment. Honey bees and other pollinators contribute millions of dollars to Minnesota’s agricultural economy. They also help maintain the health of plants that stabilize the soil and prevent erosion, buffer waterways, store carbon and provide habitat for other wildlife.

To help pollinators, people can:

  • Plant a variety of flowers, especially those that are native to an area.
  • Keep gardens blooming all season long. Choose plants that provide pollen and nectar in the spring, summer and fall.
  • Provide nesting sites by allowing dead branches and logs to remain, leaving bare earth for ground-nesting insects or installing bee nesting blocks.
  • Reduce the use of pesticides.
  • Become a citizen scientist and help researchers collect data about pollinators and their habitat.
  • Tell friends and family about pollinators and inspire them to take action.

A list of pollinator resources is available on the DNR website.