How to Help the First Endangered Bee Species

By Annie Thornton, Houzz

This week, the rusty patched bumblebee (Bombus affinis) became the first bee in the contiguous United States to be officially listed as an endangered species. The native bumblebee, once prevalent in the eastern U.S. and upper Midwest, will now receive federal protection under the Endangered Species Act in an effort to prevent its extinction.

Related: How to Add a Beehive in Your Backyard

“The significance of its listing is enormous,” says Rich Hatfield, senior endangered species conservation biologist at the Xerces Society. “It is an acknowledgement from the Fish and Wildlife Service that this species has indeed undergone significant precipitous decline, and is deserving of federal action to protect it from extinction.”

Steve Evans, original photo on Houzz

Why the rusty patched bumblebee is important.

Native bees, of which there are nearly 4,000 in the U.S., are important pollinators of wildflowers and food crops. Many have seen their numbers dwindle over the years due to factors like disease, habitat loss and insecticide use.