Illinoisans can provide important support for the state’s pollinator population.

Homeowners can plant vegetation, such as plants, shrubs, native flowers and trees that provide nectar and pollen throughout the growing season, from early spring until fall.

Protected areas of undisturbed soil can provide nesting areas for bees, including bumblebees.

I advise limiting use of pesticides, herbicides and insecticides, which are highly toxic to bees and other pollinators.

The public is encouraged to participate in the annual Bee Blitz program, BeeSpotter, on Saturday (June 27). On that day, people visit gardens and parks to take photos of bees, then upload photos to the BeeSpotter. However, information and images may be posted at other times. Visit this link for more information.

The Illinois BeeSpotter program increases awareness of native, diverse pollinators.

BeeBlitz was developed from a BioBlitz activity, which takes a snapshot in time of all of the flora and fauna biodiversity in a specific area.

During the BeeBlitz, we seek to know what species of honey and bumble bees exist on this specific day. "We encourage veteran and aspiring bee spotters alike to venture out on a nature walk and participate in the blitz.

Since its launch in 2007, BeeSpotter has monitored bee populations in parts of the Midwest using photographic data collected by bee spotter citizen scientists.

Doug Gucker serves as a local foods and small farm educator with the University of Illinois Extension based in Decatur.