US bees now listed as endangered for the first time

Beedr_relling / FlickrBumblebees are under threat of extinction.

The rusty-patched bumblebee is now officially on the endangered species list. It’s the first bee from the continental US to be be listed for federal protection under the Endangered Species Act, after declining 90% since the early 1990s, The Guardian reported.

Due to many factors such as climate change, increased use of pesticides, and habitat loss, these little bees now inhabit less than half of the states they used to — 13 instead of 28. Scientists believe bees are particularly vulnerable to a kind of pesticide called neonicotinoids, which are widely used to keep bugs off crops and gardens.

Rusty-patched bumblebees were named after their reddish patches on their bellies. They join several other bee species already on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Two other bumblebee species from the US are on the Red List already as “critically endangered,” but they have not been listed for federal protection under the Endangered Species Act: Franklin’s bumblebee and Suckley’s cuckoo bumblebee. There are 29 other species of bees on the list with differing statuses.

Bees of all kinds are crucial for pollinating wildflowers and crops, and arguably society would fail without them.

Being listed under the Endangered Species Act means that there are restrictions on activities known to harm the species and requires the government to prepare plan for its recovery.

Why bees are important:

  • Bees are pollinators, which means one third of the food we eat would not be available if it wasn’t for bees.
  • They are part of a food chain, and when that gets messed up, we face big problems.
  • Things we harvest from bees such as honey, pollen, wax has so many uses from manufacturing to food to medicine.
  • Pollination by bees is important to keep genes mixing in plant lines. Without this, plants would be more vulnerable to disease

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