BEACON TRANSCRIPT – The United States listed their first wild bee as an endangered species. The rusty patched bumble bee, who was added on the list on Tuesday, was once widespread in the entire North America.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released a statement on the bumble bee, which grew in abundance and distribution by almost 90 percent since the 1990s. However, after identifying different factors, such as diseases, climate change and habitat loss, or even pesticides, the organization declared the species to be threatened with extinction.
Its name comes from the reddish patch that can be seen on the abdomen. The populations of rusty patched bumble bees used to be abundant in 28 states, especially in the upper Midwest and Northeast, but also in Ontario and Quebec in Canada. From all these, some scattered populations can now be found only in 13 of the states and in Ontario.
In September, some other species of bees in Hawaii were listed as endangered, but the rusty patched bumble bee is the first of its species to acquire that status and also the first wild bee listed as endangered.
Bumble bees are different from domesticated honey bees and they serve as pollinators of both wildflowers and a big part of the U.S. crops. The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation sent a petition to the government regarding the bumble bees’ protection. Pollination, performed mostly by bees, has been estimated to produce $3 billion per year.
The rusty patched bumble bee is part of the 47 species of bumble bees native to U.S. and Canada. An alarming percentage of these species are on the brink of extinction, as declared by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
The government identified the main threat that brought the near extinction of the bees. It is a certain type of pesticides called neonicotinoids that are widely used on gardens, lawns, crops, and even on forests. These are so dangerous since they are quickly absorbed in the entire system of the plant, including not only the leaf tissue, but also the nectar and the pollen.
Also, they may be more vulnerable to the pesticides applied at the beginning of the year since, after emerging from winter hibernation, a whole colony depends on the success of a solitary queen.
The listing of the rusty patched bumble bee on the endangered species list will cause the reduction of harmful activities towards the bees and will prepare a detailed program regarding the conservation of the species.
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