We have all heard about how the bees are dying off and we are seeing less and less of them, but a lot of people aren’t taking it seriously. Sadly, the first bumblebee has just been added to the endangered species list.
Will it be enough to wake everyone up?
James Stranger, a research entomologist and bumble bee ecologist, said:
“There are a few little spots where we know they are. But only a really few spots.”
These bees once lived all over the Midwest and East Coast, but now 95 percent of them are spread out among 12 states and Canada. While seeing that the bees have been added to the endangered species list is shocking, it may actually be a good thing.
Xerces Society Director of Endangered Species Sarah Jepsen said:
“We are thrilled to see one of North America’s most endangered species receive the protection it needs. 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.”
Others believe that this will raise awareness of how important bees and other pollinators are to our world and how much we need them.
Rich Hatfield, a Xerces Society senior conservation biologist, explained:
“While this listing clearly supports the rusty patched bumble bee, the entire suite of pollinators that share its habitat, and which are so critical to natural ecosystems and agriculture, will also benefit,” “This is a positive step towards the conservation of this species, and we now have to roll up our sleeves to begin the actual on-the-ground conservation that will help it move toward recovery.”
Experts have been warning us for decades that the way we are living is harming the planet.
Most people have ignored these warnings and went about their normal lives. The large amount of pollution and deforestation on the planet is killing everything. It may not seem like a big deal to lose one species of bumblebee, but it could have devastating effects on other animals and human life. Some people think that the bees should have been added to the endangered species list years ago.
A petition from American Petroleum Institute, National Association of Home Builders, National Cotton Council of America, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, and two entities to the Secretary of the Interior and acting director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said:
“The implications of this hasty listing decision are difficult to overstate.”’
In 2011, Sydney Cameron, an entomologist at the University of Illinois, led a team on a three-year study of the changing distribution, genetic diversity, and pathogens in eight species of bumblebees in the U.S.
She talked about the study, saying:
“Higher pathogen prevalence and reduced genetic diversity are, thus, realistic predictors of these alarming patterns of decline in North America, although cause and effect remain uncertain.”
Still, Cameron found that pollution and loss of habitat aren’t the only contributing factors to the decline of these bees.
“Pollinator decline has become a worldwide issue, raising increasing concerns over impacts on global food production, the stability of pollination services, and disruption of plant-pollinator networks,” wrote Cameron. “In accordance with the goals of the United Nations convention on biological diversity to reduce the rate of species loss by 2010, such efforts to elucidate the causes and ecological impacts of bumble bee decline, in coordination with informed conservation strategies, will go a long way to mitigating further losses.”
Now that the bees are on the endangered species list, they can be protected and hopefully will reestablish themselves in other parts of the country and even the world.
Bumblebees may be small, but they have a big job, and we can’t afford to lose them. If you think about life without bees, things look pretty bad. Let’s all work to keep them around as long as possible.
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