Bye Bye Bumblebees?
As of Tuesday, January 10th, 2017, the rusty patched bumblebee has officially been listed as an endangered species by the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service. The listing resulted after the dramatic population decrease of the species over the last twenty years. The bee was once common in 28 states in the U.S, but is now only found in small clusters across 13 states. In fact, since the late 1990s, the population of rusty patched bumblebees has fallen 87%.
The rusty patched bumblebee is the first type of bee to ever be listed as endangered in the continental U.S (7 species of bees were designated as endangered in Hawaii by the Obama Administration). Although it is the first bee to make the list of endangered species, many other species have also recently been added to list due to similar dramatic population declines. The reductions for most of these species are believed by scientists to be caused by a combination of habitat loss, pesticide use, disease, and climate change.
The addition of bees to the list of endangered species causes special alarm because they are so important to our ecosystem and food supply. Bees are responsible for a vast majority of pollinating plants that require it in order to produce fruit, seeds, nuts, etc. While their importance goes far beyond what I've described, the bottom line is no bees, no food.
Although I dream of a world where there are no insects to sting, poke, and bite me, it is crucial that bees begin to repopulate. Without bees, our ecosystems will fail and we will quickly find ourselves short of natural-made foods and resources. You can help boost the bees by growing a garden, adding native plants to your landscape, minimizing pesticide use (organic pesticides reduce risk to bees but still harm them), and by mowing the yard less during summer, and raking less during fall in order to provide places for bees to build their nests. Do your part, and save the bees!