The bee species has declined by 87 percent since 1990s
For the first time, a bee species in United States has been declared endangered.
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The rusty-patched bumblebee, once common across the continental United States, has shrunk by 87 percent over the past 20 years, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said on Tuesday. Today, the bee is found in small, scattered colonies in about dozens of states.
Rusty patched bumblebee is the first bee species to be listed as endangered in 48 adjoining US States. In September, seven Hawaiian bee species have been declared endangered after devastating decline in populations.
“Our top priority is to act quickly to prevent extinction of the rusty patched bumble bee,” Service Midwest Regional Director Tom Melius said in a press release. “Listing the bee as endangered will help us mobilize partners and focus resources on finding ways right now to stop the decline.”
Rusty patched bumblebee gets its name for the distinctive reddish patch on its abdomen. It is among the 4,000 bee species that are native to North America.
Like other bee species, bumblebee is also an important pollinator for crops such as cranberries, blueberries and tomatoes. Overall, almost 35 percent of world crops are depended on bee pollination.
The species is facing similar threats that have depleted the populations of Hawaiian bees such as habitat loss, diseases, parasites, pesticides and climate change. The population can decline even further if something has not done to eliminate or reduce those threats. Well-crafted and implemented actions are required to prevent the bee from going extinct.
Sarina Jepsen, director of endangered species at the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation considers the listing as the “best and probably last hope for the recovery of the rusty patched bumble bee.”
“Now that the Fish and Wildlife Service has listed the rusty patched bumble bee as endangered, it stands a chance of surviving the many threats it faces – from the use of neonicotinoid pesticides to diseases.”