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The sad truth why the American bumble bee is disappearing

What do the ecosystems of Maine, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, Idaho, North Dakota, Wyoming and Oregon have in common? The American bumble bee (Bombus pensylvanicus) has disappeared from each.

Another eight states have rapidly falling populations. This includes Illinois, with a nearly 75 percent drop, and New York, reporting a 99 percent loss of the species. Quickly becoming extinct, American bumble bee numbers have declined by approximately 90 percent over the last 20 years. The American bumble bee is disappearing across the United States.

Cause of the American bumble bee collapse

Of the 50 bumble bee species found in the U. S., fewer appear each spring due to a number of threats. Populations remain stable across the southern Great Plains states of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.

However, this may be temporary due to climate change. The bumble bee cannot survive rising temperatures across their range. Research shows that range has shrunk by approximately 185 miles north to south. Bumblebees are seemingly dying of heat stroke. 

Add that to the other damaging factors both man-made (habitat loss, livestock grazing, pesticide use) and natural (diseases, parasites, and predators). These contribute to why the American bumble bee is disappearing. In a 2022 study, the journal Science reported these threats as continued decline puts the species firmly on the path of extinction.

(BTW: According to the Bee Informed Partnership, even honey bee populations are disappearing at an average 31 percent drop seasonally since 2006. That is twice the rate that commercial beekeepers consider economically sustainable.)

The importance of bumble bees

Of the 100 crops that supply 90 percent of the world’s food, 71 are pollinated by bees.

Bumble bees are an essential part of this, especially for potatoes. Other plants that they pollinate extensively include raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers. And, where would your household garden be without them?

Enter the saviors

In February 2021, a group of 14 students from Albany Law School, aptly named “Bombus Pollinator Association of Law Students” or “BPALS,” filed a petition with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. In conjunction with Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity, BPALS sought protection for the bumble bees under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973.

As of September 2021, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service added the Franklin’s bumble bee (Bombus franklini), found along the West Coast, to the protection list. 

Still, the dubious distinction as the first bumble bee in the continental United States to receive protection under the ESA goes to the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee, the state bee of Minnesota.

The future of the American bumble bee

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service issues 12-month petition findings on whether further action is warranted. That brings us to September 2022. If warranted, the ESA stipulates a 2-year review to make a final decision on listing the bumble bee as protected. Yet, the turnaround time by the USFWS averages 12 years. 

Can the American bumble bee make it? Only time will tell. Meanwhile, appreciate seeing them any time that you can.

##RVT1049

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Mae Henning
3 months ago

Climate change is blamed for everything. How about looking into some other possibilities. For instance, plants are being sold a Home Depot (and probably other places) that have been treated with Neonicotinoids – says so on the label. It is responsible for bee colony decline. Bees who feed on the pollen of these plants take it back to the hive and feed it to the brood and this is the number one cause of colony collapse. Don’t buy plants treated with this. This chemical is banned in Europe. If you want to know more just google “Neonicotinoids and bees” and you can verify my claim. Add that to other pesticides that are used and you have the primary source of bee extinction.

Bill N Stacey
3 months ago

Author of this article, Mr Dale Wade needs to state his sources (facts/figures) for this article… He has an Agenda! “Climate Change” is NOT a reason for any declination of our Bumble Bee population here in the U.S.A… There are MANY factual sources to prove this!

gray
3 months ago

Regardless of the screech-ifying rants about climate change, this line from the article says it all: “If warranted, the ESA stipulates a 2-year review to make a final decision on listing the bumble bee as protected. Yet, the turnaround time by the USFWS averages 12 years.”

So it seems probable that by the time the Gov’t gets around to a finding, and whatever action can be taken, the bumblebees will be mostly gone. Problem solved.

Like rushing food to a starving population: it only takes three months for approvals and another month for shipment. By then, they’ve all starved to death. Problem solved.

BILLY Bob Thronton
3 months ago
Reply to  gray

Just curious. How long will it take the “gov’t ” to issue acceptable numbers of American Eagle kills by windmill bird choppers. The recent fine to one of the windmill builders, for killing “too many” seems a bit hurried, by their standards. Maybe they could focus.

Ival Secrest
3 months ago

What is the evidence that rising heat affects bumblebees in an adverse way? Have any experiments been conducted?

Jeff Craig
3 months ago
Reply to  Ival Secrest

From the department of ‘Tell Me You Are A Conservative, Without Saying You Are a Conservative’.

Here is your answer…

https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.aaa7031

BILLY Bob Thronton
3 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Craig

You realize that the temperature of the planet, WHEN YOU TAKE INTO ACCOUNT, ALL KNOWN RECORDED TEMPERATUES, has not increased significantly. See Tony Heller, for the IMPERICAL DATA.

After you digest the data, do reply back.

If your with the crowd that switched from global warming, to climate change, wel then you’ve made the point.

Heres a fact, where i live currently, approx. 10,000 years ago, my property was covered in ONE MILE THICK OF ICE. Now thats real CLIMATE CHANGE for ya right there.

Rick
3 months ago

Bumble Bees are a native species. Honeybees are not; they were brought here in 1622. I am a beekeeper. The average over-winter loss is 30% to 40%. I lost a full 50% this winter. The main reason is a mite called Varroa Destructor with forage and pesticides a close second. The reason we need managed Honeybees is because we killed off most of our native pollinators.

BILLY Bob Thronton
3 months ago
Reply to  Rick

Excellent!

BILLY Bob Thronton
3 months ago

Boy, did you light a storm with the Covidians. This will take years to unravel. There will be not much interest for government funded studies (surprise there, huh). But it will come out, if there are sufficient malidies presenting in sufficient numbers. But be prepared they will first blame it on the… wait for it.. ENVIROMENT.

BILLY Bob Thronton
3 months ago

I stopped reading at climate change. Try finding some real science articles. Those writers that just do the same ‘ole are just joining in on the collective, we’re all going to burn up, starve, blah, blah, blah, instead of finding (if they even exists) real data.

Unfortunately, you will seeing more of this stuff, and they will not stop until they convince you male swimmers have every right to win every female collegiate record.

Well, you can see how thats going of late!

BILLY Bob Thronton
3 months ago

Oh, by the way, all i see are bumble bees pollinating my flower gardens anymore. Guess the doom and gloom of Honey Bees ran its course, huh!

Andy
3 months ago

I stopped reading at “I stopped reading.”

BILLY Bob Thronton
3 months ago
Reply to  Andy

Andy, Andy. Everybody knows you didn’t. You did that perverbial “just had to slow down at the crash site”. Nice try though. Got anything else?

BILLY Bob Thronton
3 months ago
Reply to  Andy

No you didnt. How else would you be able to make a reply like that. I didnt fall off a turnip truck to figger that out by gollie.

Bill n stacey
3 months ago

Well Said!

TIM MCRAE
3 months ago

Yes, keep the politics out of this, but we should all demand action.

Bees are the future of our planet.

Designating a species as endangered does not save it! Action does!

Suggestion: Give tax funded subsidies to anyone who will build and manage any size hive or even better, bee farm.

We spend Billions on worthless scientific studies every year. I won’t list them, it is embarrassing…

50-100 million dollars would guarantee thousands of new bee hives would appear in every state.

Not problem solved, but it would be positive action.

BILLY Bob Thronton
3 months ago
Reply to  TIM MCRAE

Good grief Charlie Brown, Gov’t funded bee hives.

Robert Jenkins
3 months ago

There is no shortage of bumble bees at my house in Georgia. They bore into my porch fence and pool fence to the point of needing replacing. Come get them and take them to your the Northwest.

W Clower
3 months ago
Reply to  Robert Jenkins

Those aren’t bumblebees, they are carpenter bees. Usually don’t sting unless mashed or something!
u can make/buy a carpenter bee trap.

Jeff Craig
3 months ago
Reply to  Robert Jenkins

This is why America is going down the tubes. Uninformed people who can’t tell the difference between two types of bees, and will vote for whomever says what they want to hear instead of what is actually best for them and the community.

BILLY Bob Thronton
3 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Craig

At least he saw plugs was bumbling, mumbling demtia patient. That tops bee identifacation any day of the week.

Andy
3 months ago

Wow, Claudio–way to completely repurpose a story to make an (unsubstantiated) political point! Maybe this is why we never seem to make much progress on the problems we’re confronting: people don’t want to stay on topic.

Mark O.
3 months ago
Reply to  Andy

Wow, he’s having a big day today isn’t he, perhaps he should be hiding under that rock. Take your politics elsewhere!

Joe Balaz
3 months ago
Reply to  Mark O.

agreed

Warren G
3 months ago
Reply to  Andy

My thoughts exactly!

BILLY Bob Thronton
3 months ago
Reply to  Andy

Now hold your bippie. Operation WARP speed was fast, right!

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