Job: Summer Native Bee Technicians – Nachusa Grasslands, IL

2 summer technicians – native bee diversity and bumble bee ecology


Native bee diversity technician: Full-time May 1 – August 31

Bumble bee ecology technician: Full-time June 15 – August 31

Start/end dates flexible.

Location:  The Nachusa Grasslands, a tallgrass prairie restoration run by the Nature Conservancy in Franklin Grove, Illinois


Bethanne Bruninga-Socolar, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Minnesota

Sean Griffin, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Texas at Austin

Compensation: $12/hour with free housing on-site

Housing will be provided at the Nachusa Grasslands, where the technicians will live with other summer technicians, visiting undergrad and graduate students, and volunteers. Field vehicles & gas are provided by the preserve for transportation among field sites.

Project description:  With over 80% of natural prairie habitat in the United States lost due to agricultural development and much of the remaining prairie in danger from further degradation, conservation groups such as The Nature Conservancy have become involved in active prairie plant restoration in order to preserve biodiversity and protect this unique ecosystem.  However, very little is known about how these restoration efforts affect communities of pollinators, which are an essential ecological group due to their mutualistic relationship with plants.  In light of worldwide concern about the recent decline of bees, it is necessary to assess how prairie restoration is affecting pollinator communities.  In our research, we investigate bee communities in an ongoing tallgrass prairie restoration run by The Nature Conservancy at the Nachusa Grasslands, Illinois. We compare bee communities in restored prairie to remnant prairie to determine whether bees benefit from prairie restoration. Since 2013, we have collected bee diversity and abundance data by collecting bees in bowl traps. We will continue this data collection in 2020.

This year we are adding two new project components. 1) To better capture the full bee diversity at Nachusa, we will also be hand-netting native bees in particular microhabitats within the preserve and off of focal plant taxa. 2) Due to recent documentation of the Rusty Patch Bumble Bee (Bombus affinis) at Nachusa, we are implementing intensive, non-lethal monitoring of bumble bees on the preserve. This year, we will pilot bumble bee-focused occupancy surveys.

Summer technician job description:

Native bee diversity technician:

We are hiring one technician to address two of the above project components: 1) bowl trapping to continue our long-term data set with associated plant community surveys, and 2) hand-netting native bees in focal microhabitats.

Bumble bee ecology:

We are hiring one technician to focus on bumble bee surveys with associated plant community surveys. Ideally, this technician will have prior expertise in identifying Midwestern bumble bee species in the field.

Requirements: Must have an interest in insects and pollinators and/or plants, be an independent worker, and have a valid driver’s license.

Preferred qualifications: Prior experience netting bees. Prior experience identifying Midwestern bumble bee species in the field or laboratory (bumble bee technician). Prior experience identifying tallgrass prairie plants or working with plant ID keys. Prior experience pinning and labeling insect specimens.

For students: There is ample scope for continuing to work with these data sets after the field season, e.g. for a thesis or to co-author future papers arising from these data.

To apply BY MARCH 6, 2020: Email BOTH Bethanne ( and Sean ( with a resume, list of ecology/evolution/entomology/natural science courses taken, list of any relevant skills, a brief (1 paragraph or less) statement of interest in the project and what you would hope to get out of the experience (e.g. learning new skills, building up research experience, learning about a new ecosystem, etc.), and the names and contact information of 2-3 references.