The rusty-patched bumblebee was a common sight around large portions of the United States just twenty years ago, but now it looks as though this bee may become extinct sometime soon. This bee is the first of its species to become endangered. As a result of climate change and habitat loss, this once thriving bee population has dropped by ninety percent during a twenty year time span, according the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
According to Tom Melius of the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Midwest office, listing the bee as endangered will prompt conservationists and other entities to gather resources that will enable the bee’s survival. This bee once thrived within the Midwestern and northeastern United States, but the bee was going to be added to the endangered species list in September of 2016. However, the newly elected president delayed the addition of this bee to the endangered species list, and many conservationists are pleased that the bee will be reclassified as a struggling organism, rather than endangered. This move allows for a greater collective effort to be put into the species survival. Whereas a listing of “endangered” may cause many people to think that this type of bee is beyond help.
The rusty-patched bumblebee is one of the most active pollinators in the United States. Without these bees crops would require costly pollination involving human intervention. Also, much of the animal life that is supported by shrub land, forests, parks and meadows would not be able to survive without these bees. Crops, such as blueberries and cranberries would suffer tremendously without these bees, and tomatoes could possibly die out completely since the bees are the primary pollinators of tomato crops. Hopefully, researchers will find a way to save these bees before it is too late, because a world without tomatoes seems unthinkable.
If these bees are already near extinction, then what methods can be used to help restore their population levels?