The pollinator team has gone through the majority of vials collected from emergence traps this summer, and we have exciting news! We had about a 14% occurrence of bees (# of vials with bees/# vials total), which is much higher than expected, and we still have more vials to go! Below is the current counts of vials as of September 27, 2023.

# Vials Done: ~850

# Vials with Bees: ~122

# Bees: ~290

Farewells Sting

Today was Harrison’s last day with us 🙁 Stuart made a prairie-inspired cake to honor his time with the project. He is returning to teach young minds about ecological research. Farewell, Harrison, and good luck!

The team also conducted floral abundance surveys. Essentially, we want to see how many plants (and what kinds) may be associated with ground-nesting bees. That requires feet on the ground to estimate abundances and identify plants.

Lastly, a battle occurred today. While the crew did demography of echinacea plants- where we record data on this year’s flowering plants- I was stung by two wasps. Luckily, Lindsey was prepared to retaliate, though it wasn’t necessary.

All in all, farewells can sting, but at least there’s cake in the end.

Wrong, Yet Welcome, Pollinator

The pollinator team set out to recover some emergence traps (picture 1) this afternoon. While we didn’t find ground-nesting bees, which this project is centered around, we did see another pollinator while sifting through grass that extended beyond our own heads (Jan for scale; picture 2). The viceroy (Limenitis archippus; picture 3) looks incredibly similar to the monarch (Danaus plexippus), except for the black, horizontal line that cuts across their dorsal wings. We hope to see even more pollinator friends as the field season goes on!

Beat the Heat!

To counter expected high temperatures, we started earlier in the morning with GPS points for the ENTRF-funded bee research project and found some cool plants. After lunch, some of the team continued to stake and shoot points, while others planted some green comet milkweed (Asclepias viridiflora) seedlings in a previously burned site. We also saw a baby Pheobe on the deck after it attempted to fledge.

One of our hard-working employees finding points with our handy dandy GPS units.
Pheobe fledgling (or attemptee).
Alumroot (Heuchera richardsonii) at one of our sites.

Hulzebos CRP North Unit Burn

Smokey but successful burn today in a prairie restoration! Looks like a nice rain will follow and hopefully jump start some new plant growth.

Meet Ellysa Johnson

Part of the Pollinator Team with the Echinacea Project 2023

Natural Resource Management major, North Dakota State University, ’23

Pronouns: she/her

Research Interests

I am interested in entomology and botany. Particularly, I studied monarch butterflies, milkweed, and other flowering non-grass plants within mixed-grass prairies managed with various grazing strategies such as patch-burn grazing, and now I am extending my experience towards bees in tall-grass prairie. I am excited to learn new plants, identify bee species, and lead the pollinator team!


I am originally from Lakeville, MN. I went to the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN for my B.S. degree in environmental science, and then went on to pursue a M.S. in natural resource management through North Dakota State University in Fargo, ND.

In my spare time I like to watch bad dating shows, paint, thrift shop, and spend time with my cat.