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Pollinators: Bees and Wasps

Pollinators: Essential to Life

Bees and wasps are two of the most important groups of pollinating insects in northern Illinois. Some bats and birds (such as hummingbirds) perform pollination, too.

Bees are nature’s most important pollinators, but their vital role in the sustained health of our ecosystems is often overlooked. Bees use specialized hairs on their legs or abdomen to collect pollen for food — mixed with nectar, it becomes a nutritious paste. By grand design, this self-interested act moves pollen from flower to flower. Without bees and other pollinators, many trees and flowers would go unfertilized or be unable to cross-pollinate. Lack of pollination means less fruit or seed production, and, over time, a decline in the hardiness and reproduction of the plants, including possible extinction. This, in turn, affects birds, mammals, and other species that depend on these plants.


Ten species of bumble bees can be found in Winnebago County. Some species are quite common, while other species have declined dramatically in the past two or three decades.

Butterflies and Moths