After Population Plunge, Once Common US Bumble Bee Officially Listed As Endangered

The noble and rare rusty-patched bumble bee is officially endangered. A once common bee that inhabited 28 US states, the rusty-patched bumble has become the first bee from the continental United States to be added to the endangered species list.

A bumble bee via AP

Its population has declined 90 per cent since the early 1990s — some can still be found in 13 states and Ontario — due to a mix of factors including climate change, pesticides and habitat loss, a US federal official told the New York Times.

The rusty-patched bumble bee was named for the reddish patch on its abdomen. The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, who petitioned the government to give the bee protection, emphasised that bumble bees are crucial for pollinating wildflowers and a third of America’s crops. Government scientists believe a certain kind of pesticide called neonicotinoids — which is widely sprayed on crops, lawns and gardens — to be particularly harmful to bumble bees.

Now that the US government has listed the rusty-patched bumble under the Endangered Species Act, they are obligated to “protect and recover imperiled species and the ecosystems upon which they depend”.

[New York Times, The Guardian]