Unfortunately, the bumblebee has been added to the growing list of endangered species alongside the northern spotted owl, the grizzly bear, the gray wolf, and around 700 other animal species on the verge of extinction.
Once present in abundance in the prairies and grasslands in the East and Midwest, this rusty-patched bee is now reducing in population at an alarming rate. According to estimates, as much as 95 percent only exists in twelve states and the province of Ontario, Canada.
Bumblebee Becomes an Endangered Species
On the 11th of January, 2017, the US Fish and Wildlife Service put bumblebee on the list of endangered species, which took effect on the 21st of March. This bee is not the first to be threatened by extinction. Seven species of Hawaiian yellow-faced bees became protected under the Endangered Species Act too.
The threats that these seven species are faced with are similar to the ones which have reduced the population of the rusty patched bumblebee, i.e. loss of habitat, parasites, pesticides, illnesses, and climate change. Unfortunately, this is not a big problem for the bees only, but for humans too because they pollinate a large part of our foods.
They pollinate crops like clover, cranberries, and blueberries and are almost the sole insect pollinator of tomatoes, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
In the US, the economic value of pollination provided by insects, mostly bees, is estimated at $3 billion on a yearly basis. Pollinators may be small, but powerful parts of the natural mechanism which maintains humans and our world. Without these pollinators, the meadows, parks, forests and the vibrant life which they support will not survive.
Individuals can help bumblebees and reduce their decline by planting native flowers, reducing or excluding the usage of pesticides, and fostering natural landscapes which will attract these insects.
Thanks to the Endangered Species Act, more than 1000 species have been protected since 1973. However, a lot of Republicans in Washington are trying to revise it by arguing that it did not protect the endangered species and that it also hurt business interests.
Before heading out, do not forget to check out the video below and learn why bees are an endangered species: