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Locals Hope Endangered Status Will Help Protect Bee Population

Rusty Patched Bumblebee

Another species of bees has been added to the list of endangered species for the first time in the United States.

Last summer, seven species of honeybees were added to the list that were native to Hawaii. This time, the Rusty Patched Bumblebee has been added, and as NPR reports, it’s native to the Midwest.

"Large parts of the Eastern and Midwestern United States were once crawling with these bees, Bombus affinis, but the bees have suffered a dramatic decline in the last two decades due to habitat loss and degradation, along with pathogens and pesticides. Indeed, the bee was found in 31 states and Canadian provinces before the mid- to late-1990s, according to the final rule published in the Federal Register. But since 2000, it has been reported in only 13 states and Ontario, Canada. It has seen an 88 percent decline in the number of populations and an 87 percent loss in the amount of territory it inhabits."

Ellie Symes is the CEO of Bloomington’s Bee Corp. She says the move to list these bees as endangered will increase awareness to locals, and have positive cascading effects.

"They discover, ‘oh, this bumblebee is actually native to my back yard, and it needs this flower that I love, and I can go plant some,’” says Symes.

The Rusty Patched Bumblebee isn’t a honeybee per se, but it remains a very important pollinator in the Midwest, pollinating plants for many fruits such as blueberries.

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