Now-rare bumble bee is placed on endangered species list, a first for bees

Bombus Affinis, also known as rusty patched bumblebee as seen on Wikipedia

Des Moines, Iowa – RadioIowa – Calling it a “race against extinction,” a bumble bee that was once prevalent in Iowa is being placed on the endangered species list for the first time by the U-S Fish and Wildlife Service. Serina Jepsen, director of the endangered species program at the Xerces Society, says the rusty patched bumble bee is disappearing and everyone involved with agriculture should be taking note.

The Xerces Society had petitioned the agency for the designation. The native bee is of vital importance as a pollinator, Jepsen says, and its demise can be seen as another sign of significant trouble for the continent’s environment.

Once common as far east as Maine, limited populations of the bee can still be found in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana but no significant numbers have been spotted in Iowa in years. The value of native pollinators to agriculture in the U-S is estimated at nine-BILLION dollars per year, and that doesn’t count honeybee colonies that can be rented for pollination.

She says it’s a thrill to see one of North America’s most endangered species receive the protection it needs.

Offering a landscape that sustains all native bees will require continued investment by public agencies, she says, as well as efforts from private residents in urban and rural areas. The Xerces Society is a non-profit conservation group, headquartered in Portland, Oregon, focused primarily on invertebrates. It’s named for the Xerces Blue butterfly, the first butterfly known to go extinct in North America as a result of human activities.

Click here to learn more about Xerces Society.

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