Anyone Who Eats Food Should Be Worried About This Bee

It's the first proposed for endangered species list
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 23, 2016 4:04 AM CDT
US Bumblebee Species Headed for Endangered List
A rusty patched bumblebee collects pollen from a flower in Madison, Wis.   (Rich Hatfield/The Xerces Society via AP)

The rusty patched bumblebee has gone from a widespread and well-known pollinator to the edge of extinction in just 20 years. Reuters reports that the species, which got its name from the reddish patch on its abdomen, has been proposed for the endangered species list by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. It would be the first of the US and Canada's 47 bumblebee species on the list. The bee's population has dropped by close to 90% since the late 1990s because of factors including disease and habitat loss, according to Fish and Wildlife, which describes this species and other bumblebees as pollinators that "contribute to our food security and the healthy functioning of our ecosystems."

Rusty patched bumblebees were once found in at least 26 eastern states, but they're only seen in a handful of states today, according to the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, which asked the government to safeguard the species. The Los Angeles Times notes that the bee's decline is bad news for anybody who eats food: It has a longer life span than most bumblebees and is better than most at pollinating crops, including cranberries, plums, alfalfa, and apples. (Spraying for Zika mosquitoes in South Carolina ended up killing millions of honeybees.)

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