Minnesota wraps up 30-year biological ‘census’

Image of researcher in forest.

(Minnesota Public Radio) The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is putting the finishing touches on the state’s first comprehensive survey of this corner of the earth. Hundreds of scientists have spent more than three decades scouring the state, county by county, for rare and common plants and animals, as well as intact ecosystems that represent the land as it once was. “And what we’ve found is a mix of not so good news and good news.”

Thousands of homeowners apply for Minnesota funding to turn lawns into bee-friendly habitats

Image of bumble bee approaching flower.

(Star Tribune) The state’s Board of Water and Soil Resources will select the first 500 or so homeowners this week to receive funding under the trial program, which will pay residents up to $350 to plant pollinator gardens or convert their traditional grass lawns to more bee-friendly yards. Interest has been high enough that the state will keep accepting applications online until early June. “We knew there were going to be a lot of applications for this, but we didn’t know we were going to get close to 6,000 of them in just this first round.”

Minnesota cities could get power to ban pesticides as bee populations fall

Image of rusty patched bumble bee on Joe Pye weed.

(The Star Tribune) Lawmakers may give cities throughout Minnesota the authority to ban some widely used pesticides – including neonicotinoids – as native bumble bee and pollinator populations continue to collapse. The recently-introduced measure would grant each city the choice to issue a blanket ban on a group of pesticides that the Minnesota Department of Agriculture has labeled as lethal to pollinators.

Rusty patched bumble bee discovered in Minnesota bluffland area

Image of rusty patched bumble bee on flower.

(StarTribune) The federally endangered bumble bee — a single male of the species — has been discovered at the Pine Bend Bluffs Natural Area in Inver Grove Heights, a positive sign for ecologists who have worked on restoring the area. Just one bee represents approximately 0.2 percent of the species’ known world population. Minnesota hosts the largest population of the bee in the world, with about 35 percent of the species buzzing about in the Twin Cities metro area.

Big buzz about program to turn lawns into pollinator habitat

Image of bee on flowers.

(Minnesota Public Radio) The Lawns to Legumes program received $900,000 in funding this year from the Legislative Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources. The initiative aims to help homeowners lawns into pollinator habitat. Over the winter, homeowners will be able to apply for roughly $700,000 in cost share funds for pollinator habitat projects. A priority area for the funding will be where endangered rusty patched bumble bees live.

Meet the rusty patched bumble bee, Minnesota’s new bee ambassador

Image of rusty patched bumble bee on flower.

(Minnesota Public Radio) Gov. Tim Walz made the state bee designation official when he signed state budget bills into law this week after a contentious legislative session. The designation comes along with a pledge to protect the bee, which in Minnesota is found primarily in and around the Twin Cities. And scientists say regular Minnesotans can help the population recover.

Program to pay Minnesota homeowners to let their lawn go to the bees

Image of honey bee on flower.

(Star Tribune) The state of Minnesota will set aside $900,000 over one year to assist homeowners by covering much of the cost of converting traditional lawns by planting wildflowers, clover and native grasses in an effort to slow the collapse of the state’s bee population. The plan could help replenish food sources for pollinators of all kinds, but will specifically aim at saving the rusty patched bumblebee, a fat and fuzzy species on the brink of extinction that seems to be making its final stand in the cities of the Upper Midwest.