Frequently Asked Questions

Try watching one of the informational webinars to answer questions you have, or check out the list of frequently asked questions below! If you can’t find the answer to your question on the list, please email us at ipollinate@illinois.edu.

Disclaimer! These webinars were recorded in 2020, and some of the information may not be applicable to the changes we’ve made to the project in 2022.

Research Garden:
  1. Why are we planting nonnative plants in the research gardens? One of the goals of I-Pollinate is to evaluate annual ornamental plants as resources for pollinators as they’re highly understudied.
  2. Does the configuration of the research garden have to be in an oval as depicted in the diagram? No, the diagram is only an example. We just ask that all of the plants be in close proximity to one another.
  3. Can the research garden be planted in containers instead of in the ground? Yes! We simply ask that the containers be large enough to accommodate all of the plants of the same species. You’ll likely have to water plants in containers more often as well.
  4. If the research garden is planted in containers, do they have to be situated within close distance to each other (as if they were in a bed)? Ideally yes, to make sure the configuration is as similar as possible to the beds, but if that isn’t possible, four plants of a single species will also suffice.
  5. Do the flowers have to be the color specified? Yes.
  6. Do the flowers have to be the variety specified? Not necessarily, color must match though.
  7. What if I’m having trouble finding the plants listed? We only ask that you get 4 of the listed flower species of the designated color (variety doesn’t matter). If you can’t find the milkweeds or don’t want to participate in the milkweed project you can add another ornamental plant. Alternative milkweed species acceptable for I-Pollinate are Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly milkweed), Asclepias sullivantii (prairie milkweed)and Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed), but these are not as attractive as the suggested Asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed or rose milkweed).
  8. Why are there so many questions about my yard? Every yard is very different and knowing a bit about the other things in your yard, the neighborhood you live in, and how you maintain your garden can provide valuable information to explain what you are seeing. For example, if your neighborhood has lots of native plant enthusiasts, we might expect your I-Pollinate garden to be less attractive than someone whose garden is surrounded by grass only.
  9. Is it okay to grow my plants from seed? Yes, so long as the plants are flowering in time, ideally by mid-June.
  10. Can the research garden have plants other than the ones for I-Pollinate? No, only include the plants listed on the buying guide. We’re trying to evaluate specific plants and how pollinators respond to them.
  11. How far from other garden beds/plants should the research garden be? At least one meter.
  12. Why is data collection conducted during the third week of the month? National Pollinator Week is always the third full week in June, so we chose this week for other months for consistency.
  13. Can I collect data during other times, not just data collection times? Yes! Collect as much data as you want.
  14. During data collection weeks, are we to collect data every day of the week? No, we selected an entire week for data collection in the event of bad weather.
  15. Is it possible to have multiple gardens (in relatively close proximity) instead of one garden? Yes, just be sure to specify in the additional information section of data submission.
  16. Do I need to register my garden to start? Yes, please! Registering your garden allows us to know who is participating and where the gardens are located.
  17. Can I register more than one research garden? Of course! Just be sure to be consistent in designating each garden (e.g. Garden “A” should always be indicated as Garden “A”).
  18. Is the same registration used for all of the projects (e.g. if I registered my research garden, am I automatically registered for BeeSpotter)? No, the registration for each of these projects is separate. Please register for both projects if you’re planning to participate in both.
  19. Should research gardens be weeded and/or mulched? Gardens can be weeded, but preferably not mulched as many bee species nest in soil and require access to the soil surface.
  20. I have native prairie plants located near my research garden, is this okay? Yes, just be sure to report this information during your floral surveys.
  21. Which plants can be planted near black walnut? Check out these resources for more information: https://hort.extension.wisc.edu/articles/black-walnut-toxicity/ https://ag.purdue.edu/btny/ppdl/Pages/Black-Walnut-Toxicity.aspx
  22. Is there an age limit to participate in I-Pollinate? No, all ages are welcome.
  23. Does I-Pollinate have plants for sale? No, please purchase the plants from your local garden center.
  24. Can a research garden be planted near a honey bee hive? We don’t recommend planting your research garden near a hive due to the enormous amount of activity that will be generated. Additionally, only submit photos of bumble bees near the hive and/or venture elsewhere to find bees to photograph.
  25. What area(s) does I-Pollinate include? Anywhere! We have participants all over the state of Illinois and beyond.
  26. Is the address of my I-Pollinate garden going to be shared publicly? The address of your research garden is simply used to determine which garden is which and where the gardens are located throughout the state. We will never share your address.
  27. Is it okay if I indicate that I don’t want a scientist to come into my yard? Of course! We only ask to visit research gardens to validate data and provide some consistency among gardens. It’s perfectly fine if you’d rather not have a scientist visit. Similarly, if you are comfortable with a scientist visiting your garden, we’ll always ask permission beforehand and work with you to find an appropriate time.
  28. Will I be informed of the results of the project? Yes! We put together a newsletter after all of the data have been collected and analyzed, so you’ll definitely hear from us!
Pollinator Surveys:
  1. Should the survey be conducted at the same time of day each time? Anytime the sun is shining is great. However, try to avoid the heat of the day, as this is when activity tends to drop. Mornings tend to have the most visitors.
  2. Should hummingbirds be counted in the pollinator surveys? No, we are only recording insects at this point.
  3. If an insect lands on one of the plants I’m observing, then flies to a second plant, should that be counted as one or two visits? Count each individual insect visitor as one regardless of the number of flowers it visits.
  4. How much time will the survey take? Once your garden is established, recording the data will only take approximately 2 hours spread over one week per month. This includes recording general yard data, pollinator observations, and monarch observations.
Monarch Surveys:
  1. Can the same milkweed plants be reused from year to year? No, please replant new milkweeds each year. The age of the milkweed plants influences monarch activity.
  2. Where can I find information to distinguish between monarch larval instars? Check out these resources: https://ipollinate.illinois.edu/files/2019/03/Monarch_ID_Appendix.pdf, https://monarchjointventure.org/monarch-biology/life-cycle/larva/guide-to-monarch-instars, https://www.monarchwatch.org/biology/cycle1.htm

3. Do I need to put in the full research garden if only sampling monarchs? No, you can simply plant the 4 milkweed plants but still try to maintain a distance of 1 meter from other plants in your yard.

BeeSpotter:
  1.  Do you have to have a research garden to participate in BeeSpotter? No, participants can take photos of bees in Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, and Missouri and submit them.
  2. Can other types/species of bees be submitted to BeeSpotter? No, only bumble bees and honey bees should be submitted due to the difficulty of identifying other bees via photos.
  3. Where can I find resources about differentiating between bee species? https://beespotter.org/topics/key/, https://beespotter.org/topics/key/otherbees.html
  4. How can I be sure the insect I’m photographing is a bee and not a fly? https://beespotter.org/topics/mimics/