There has been a lot of buzz over the endangerment of the bumblebee species. Several social media sites have featured their own articles on the subject, and beekeepers have stepped up to speak about the situation. While bumblebee populations in certain areas of the United States were drastically low, to the point where people hadn’t seen species for years at a time, it wasn’t until 1/10/2017 that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service announced the Rusty Patched Bumblebee’s official placement on the endangered species list.
With the hype going on about the endangerment of bumblebees, it’s important to note that bumblebees have sub species just as spiders, beetles, or butterflies. There are 275 types of bumblebees, and many of the species who have been monitored for endangerment resided in hot, arid places of the United States (such as California or Arizona;) however, the Rusty Patch is a different story.
The Rusty Patch Bumblebee is native to several places from the mid-west, eastern, and northern states. Prior to the scarcity of the bee it could be found across 28 different states, but can only be found in 13 states and one of Canada’s provinces. Those places have been documented as Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, Wisconsin and Ontario, Canada. The official drop rate is reported at 87% since the 1990’s, and is the first bee to ever make it to the endangered species list.
Bumblebees are important for our environment to operate properly, as they are one of the majority of our pollinators. Next to the Bumblebee is the butterfly, which some species are also reported to be experiencing a severe decline in population. 30% of our crops rely on pollinators, and 90% of the earth’s ecosystem naturally thrives from them as well. Losing them will mark a decline in the rates of natural foliage, hurting our air quality, climate conditions, and crop conditions.
Several bee species prior to this had been under speculation and some were given protection from the endangered wildlife species act. Much of this has been caused by loss of habitat and climate change, but there are current measures being taken to help prevent the loss of the Rusty Patch Bumblebee.
If you’re interested in helping, there is a current Bee Watch for anyone that witnesses the bee. It’s scarcely seen anymore, to the point where there are some who do not believe the Rusty Patch is still with us. All the details on joining the Bumble Bee Watch are listed on their site, and it’s pretty easy to help by just pointing out you’ve witnessed them. You can even see marked on a map where bees of various sub species have been spotted, and see exactly how populations are doing. Officials are urging the public to also do their part in small and easy ways:
“Plant native flowers, even in small plots in urban areas, using a variety that will bloom from spring through fall. Limit or avoid use of pesticides if possible, and always follow label instructions carefully. Foster natural landscapes and leave grass and garden plants uncut after summer to provide habitat for overwintering bees.” – Service Midwest Regional Director Tom Melius