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Rusty Patched Bumble Bee Declared Endangered

First species of bumble bee and first bee in the continental U.S. to be declared an endangered species


The rusty patched bumble bee is so named due to the rusty red patch located on the center of their back.
Credit: Public Domain/USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab Flickr

Almost four years after the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation first petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the rusty patched bumble bee as an endangered species, the petition was granted. Following a January 10 announcement, a rule will be published in the Federal Register on January 11, 2017, officially making the rusty patched bumble bee the first species of bumble bee in the United States, and the first bee in the contiguous 48 states placed on the endangered species list. (Seven species of Hawaiian yellow-faced bees were placed on the list in September 2016.)

According to a fact sheet on the bee from the Fish and Wildlife Service, their habitat was grasslands and tallgrass prairies in the upper Midwest and northeastern United States. This area has been lost or degraded, causing a decline of 87 percent of the population over the course of 20 years. Scattered populations remain in 13 states and in Ontario, Canada. In addition to habitat loss, threats to the bee include intensive farming, disease, pesticides, and climate change.

"The Fish and Wildlife Service has relied upon the best available science and we welcome this decision," said Rich Hatfield, senior conservation biologist at the Xerces Society, in a press release. "Addressing the threats that the rusty patched bumble bee faces will help not only this species, but countless other native pollinators that are so critical to the functioning of natural ecosystems and agriculture."

The Fish and Wildlife Service recommends the use of native plants and natural landscapes as important factors in helping conserve the rusty patched bumble bee. They also encourage minimizing the use of pesticides.

For more information on the rusty patched bumble bee, visit or

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February 16, 2019, 6:31 am PST

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