Native Bee Habitat Map

Pollinators need habitat with food and nesting space, which you can help to create right in your own neighborhood.

About the Activity

In this activity, you’ll use a map and explore ways to add pollinator habitat in cities and on farms. You’ll also learn how increasing habitat can directly help native bees and other pollinators and how pollinator habitat can improve your community.

This activity is part of our 4-H at Home Native Bees Series. See the rest of the activities here.

Grade Level: 2—8
Topic: Environmental Science, Life Science, STEM
Estimated Time: 30-60 minutes

Brought to you by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, and Brooke Luduvosky, Dubuque Community School District (digital powerpoint version), and National 4-H Council’s Ag Innovators Experience Native Bee Challenge

A bees next and some pieces of wood

Activity Steps

Take a look at the Native Bee Guide. Read about the five different native bees for this activity. How are the native bees similar and different? Think about what you’ve learned about the flight distance and type of flower that each native bee prefers.

Now, let’s make a habitat for pollinators.

  1. First, look at the map printout. Identify the different places on the map. Did you find the school? Where is the orchard? How far is the orchard from the road? What else do you see? As a member of this community, your goal is to add more habitat for native bees and other pollinators, like the one in the image to the right:
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Did you know? Everyone can help their communities increase habitat for pollinators like native bees. Whether you live on a farm or in a large city, there are ways to provide more flowers for native bees. The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is a way for farmers to get paid for turning unproductive land into pollinator habitat. Farmers can also plant strips of prairie in their fields to reduce water run-off from fields and help pollinators by adding habitat.

  1. Review the “Icon Descriptions Table” to learn more about types of habitat that can be added.Did you know? Flower gardens and vegetable gardens can provide food for bees. Bees need flowers to collect nectar and pollen to feed themselves and their young.
  2. Tape habitat icons to your map in the places where it would be helpful to increase a specific type of habitat for native bees in this community. For example this photo shows how you could add flowers to a large grassy area. You might consider adding habitat to other large grassy areas without flowers nearby. You could also add flowers that bloom all season and for different types of bees.
     
  3.  

  • Would the local farms benefit from adding habitat nearby?
  • How can schools, businesses, and homeowners increase habitat to help bees?
  • How can bees help farmers?
     
    When you are finished adding habitat icons, take a look at the “Habitat Answer Key.” There is no one right answer, but the key will help you see if there are areas on your map that you did not consider for opportunities to add habitat.Did you know? Native prairie and other native wildlands are good for bees, as they offer flowers and places for them to make nests.
  1. Review the Native Bee Guide again and use that guide to help you identify places on your map that are most suitable for the different types of native bees. For example this photo shows a mason bee being placed near an apple orchard. The Native Bee Guide says that mason bees are good for orchards because they emerge in the spring and can help pollinate apple trees.
     

     
    When adding your bees, you should consider the time of year, crop pollination needs, blooming season of crops, flower choices of the different bees, and the flight ranges of bees. Specific locations on the map are labeled to help you identify where native bee icons could be added. For example, “Orchard 1 Mile” tells you that the pumpkin patch is a long way from the orchard.
     
    You can attach the native bee icons to your map using tape. When you are finished, look at the “Native Bee Answer Key” to see if you found the right locations for your bees.Did you know? Squash Bees are specialized to only visit the flowers of plants in the squash family. They visit crops like pumpkin, cucumber, and zucchini.
     
  2. Take a look at your map. How did adding habitat for native bees change the community and improve life for local pollinators?

Reflection Questions
Bonus questions to inspire wonder:

  1. What do you notice about the difference between the number of bees in town and on the farm?
  2. Why is it important to add pollinator habitat near farms?
  3. Why do farmers need more native bees than a homeowner?
  4. How does the community benefit from having more pollinators and more pollinator habitat?
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Investigate and Explore
Take what you've learned to the next level to learn more and explore the possibilities.

Consider what importance biodiversity plays in our prairie lands. Stewardship falls to all of us, not just farmers and organizations. Together, we can make a difference in our community and create rich habitats for bees and other pollinators at our schools and in our own backyards.

To get a better sense of how important bumble bees are to our ecosystem, enjoy this slow-motion footage of a bee dislodging pollen on a common flower in the prairie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7q9Kn1rhRc

Two sets of hands picking up a flower plant

Career Connections

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STEM Careers

If you liked learning about bee habitats, you might enjoy a career in STEM. STEM careers are exciting and rewarding, and you can pursue a STEM-related career wherever you live, whether you’re in a city, a rural community, or anywhere in between.

Watch this video and learn what it takes to be a toxicologist from Kimberly Hodge-Bell of Bayer Crop Science. Like Dr. Joseph Wilson who was featured in the Pollinator Model, Kimberly loves photography too! Dr. Wilson took the photos of the bees you see in the experiences. That would be a fun career too!

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