First continental bee listed as endangered

By Julian Mitchell

In January the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officially declared the Rusty Patched Bumblebee as an endangered species.

The bee is the first bee within the continental United States to be added to the endangered species list.

The bumblebee was initially determined to be endangered by the USFWS on Jan. 10 and was approved to officially join the endangered species list on Feb. 10.

The Washington Post reported that with the change over to the Trump administration, a new review was required and postponed the date to March 21.

According the USFWS, the main cause for the decline in Rusty Patched Bumblebee population is due to habitat loss in the upper midwest and eastern sections of the U.S.

The bee mainly lives in grasslands, few of which have remained due to the construction of roads, towns and farms.

“Colony collapse disorder is real. Hives are diminishing. With climate change and lack of natural areas for bees to forage, it’s going to have a huge impact,” said Anna Soper, a professor of plant science at Cal Poly Pomona.

The USFWS has started service programs to help revitalize the Rusty Patched Bumblebee’s populations through rejuvenation of habitats.

They plan to re-introduce pollinator-friendly plants that will support bee populations.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has also stepped in with its own conservation efforts.

They have reached out to multiple land owners in areas that are suitable for the Rusty Patched Bumblebee.

Initiatives encourage the landowners to add in bee-friendly plants, such as wildflowers, and improving their grounds management.

Soper continued, saying that the diminishing populations of bees will eventually have an effect on everybody, due to their important role as pollinators.

Without bees pollinating various plants, we might not see crops such as tomatoes or cucumbers.

According to USFWS, Rusty Patched Bumblebees as well as other insect pollinators contribute $3 billion per year through their pollination services.

While this may be worrisome to the vegetarians out there, the situation isn’t exactly as sticky as it could be.

According to Aaron Fox, an assistant professor in the Department of Plant Science at CPP, honeybees are not going to be on the endangered species list anytime soon.

While bumblebees do make honey, “they usually store it in such small quantities as to be impractical for commercial purposes,” according to an Oklahoma State University fact sheet about bees.

To help bumblebee conservation on your own, there are a number of things that we can do as everyday citizens to support this species.

For example, the USFWS recommends planting your own garden with native plants.

Native plants provide bumblebees with their main source of food, pollen and nectar.

Unlike the common honeybee, many bumblebees are native to North America and therefore thrive when they have great access to native plants.

Another tip the USFWS has is to try to keep a natural surrounding area.

The Rusty Patched Bumblebee, for example, hibernates underground and needs untouched soil to hibernate and re-emerge in the spring.

If you are further interested in information on bumblebees and conservation efforts, you can visit BumbleBeeWatch.org, a site dedicated to finding bumblebee species.

The site allows you to post photos of bumblebees you have seen in person and start a collection.

The goal of the site is for its participants to raise awareness for near-extinct bumblebee species and hopefully find species that were previously thought to be extinct.

The Rusty Patched Bumblebee is the first continental bee to be placed on the endangered species list

Eviana Vergara / The Poly Post

The Rusty Patched Bumblebee is the first continental bee to be placed on the endangered species list

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