O regon’s primary pollinators are native bumble bees, sweat bees, mining bees, wasps,
butterflies, and moths. Imported European honey bees also play a critical role in pollinating
crops. This guide will help you recognize the characteristics of pollinators
and their requirements for food and shelter.
Bumble bees are social insects that All species nest in the ground. Hal-
Native Pollinators build their nests in the ground, of- ictids have a range of nesting hab-
Native bees are easily overlooked ten in abandoned mouse burrows, its, from dispersed solitary nests, to
since most do not ﬁt the stereo- empty bird nests, and under fall- densely situated ones with individ-
type image, like the European en grass. The mated queen over- ual bees sharing common entrance
honey bee, with black and brown- winters in the soil while the rest of ways, to primitive social arrange-
ish stripes, living with thousands the colony dies at the onset of cold ments. Halictid bees are common
of others in a hive full of honey- weather. In early spring, she estab- insects and good general pollina-
comb. About 4,000 species of na- lishes a new nest and rears the ﬁrst tors.
tive bees have been identiﬁed and worker brood. These workers are
catalogued in North America. They small, sterile females that enlarge
range in length from less than one the nest, forage, and tend to the Mining
eighth of an inch to more than one next generation of workers. These Bees
inch; vary in color from dark brown are larger bees, due to changed Andrenid
or black to metallic green and blue; nest conditions, such as increased b e e s ,
and may have stripes of red, white, temperature, cell size, and food common-
orange, or yellow. availability. Produced in late sum- ly called
mer are the fertile females (next mining
year’s queens) and males (called or digger
Bumble Bees drones), whose sole function is to bees, are
There are 49 fertilize the queens before dying in another
species of the fall. common
bumble bees pollina-
in the Unit- tor. They
ed States. Sweat Bees resemble the typical honey bee in
About 19 of Sweat bee shape and size. Their bodies are
these are found in Oregon. is the com- dark in color and covered with ﬁne,
mon name light brown or yellow hairs.
Bumble bees are excellent pollina- for bees in
tors, especially of berry species. the Halicti- Andrenid bees have chewing-lap-
While bumble bees are general- dae family, ping mouthparts used to manipu-
ist foragers that visit a diversity of and they are late and collect nectar and pollen.
ﬂowers, a few groups of ﬂowers, named for The protruding, ‘lapping’ mouth-
such as willows and lupines, are their attraction to the salts in hu- part is shorter in mining bees than
particularly important to them. man perspiration. Most sweat bees honeybees, giving them the com-
are small to medium in size, 1/8 to mon name of short-tongued bees.
Bumble bees practice what is called 3/8 of an inch long. They are gen- As their name suggests, mining
‘buzz pollination’ where they grab erally black or metallic, and some bees dig single nests in the soil.
onto the anthers, the pollen-bear- are brilliant green or brassy yellow. Mining bees are solitary and do
ing structure, of certain ﬂowers and not form large, socially organized
buzz their ﬂight muscles to release Sweat bees are among the most nests. However, thousands of indi-
the pollen. This behavior is espe- common bees. There are about viduals may nest in a general area
cially important in pollinating blue- 1,000 species in the United States, with good nesting habitat.
berries, cranberries, and tomatoes. Canada, and Central America.
Wasps gressive than other types of wasps.
Like bees, Their nests are always enclosed Other Pollinators
yellowjack- with a papery envelope and can be
ets and hor- found in the ground, hanging from Syrphid Flies
nets belong eaves or tree branches, and occa- Syrphid ﬂies,
to the insect sionally in wall voids. also known
order Hy- as hover ﬂies
menoptera. The Bald or White Faced ‘Hornet,’ for their abil-
These species are beneﬁcial to hu- is scientiﬁcally not considered to ity to hover
mans for pest control and some be a hornet, but a large wasp. Its in ﬂight, are
pollination. In addition, thousands coloration is black and white. Their common predators of aphids and
of small wasp species are parasites nests are found in trees or shrubs other soft bodied insects. Because
of other insect pests, particularly and they become very large by Syrphid ﬂies feed on pollen, nectar,
aphids and caterpillars. Without summer’s end. The size of the nest, and aphid honeydew, they can also
parasitic wasps, pests would over- number of individuals in a colony, act as pollinators. They mimic the
take most crops. and the active time beyond summer appearance of bees or wasps as a
all depend on the species. protective strategy. There are mul-
Yellowjackets tiple species of Syrphid ﬂies in Or-
can be both egon.
wasps. They Non-native Pollinators Butterﬂies
are important Butterﬂies,
predators and European as well as
scavengers, Honey Bees m o t h s ,
helping to control pests and recycle European can serve
organic materials, but can also be a h o n e y as pol-
threat to humans due to their abil- bees play linators.
ity to sting repeatedly in defense of a critical There are
their nests. Yellowjackets are rela- role in approximately 170 species of but-
tively short and stout, holding their pollinating terﬂies in Oregon that are found
legs close to their body compared crops. They are the pollinator we at sea level, on mountaintops, and
with other wasps. Paper wasps, know how to best manage and move everywhere in between. Some range
for example, are more slender and for agriculture. However, in recent throughout North America or even
have long, dangling legs. All yel- years they have been plagued by other continents. Others, like the
lowjackets are striped either black pests, diseases, and most recently, Oregon swallowtail, are unique to
and white or black and yellow. They the mysterious colony collapse the Paciﬁc Northwest.
are rapid ﬂiers, and are more ag- disorder.
Improve pollinator habitat on your property...
The USDA Natural Resources Look for opportunities to improve The Xerces Society is a non-
Conservation Service (NRCS) pollinator habitat with these NRCS proﬁt organization that works
provides voluntary technical and conservation programs: with farmers and scientists to
ﬁnancial assistance to help private protect habitat that supports
landowners plan, design and install Conservation Security Program pollinators. The Xerces Society
conservation treatments. Ask Conservation Technical Assistance provides plant lists, crop-speciﬁc
your local NRCS about practices Environmental Quality Incentives Program fact sheets and other guidance for
to beneﬁt pollinators. Locate your Wetlands Reserve Program protecting pollinator habitat. More
service center online at: information can be found at:
Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.