Seed World

Rusty Patched Bumble Bee Proposed as “Endangered”

Photo: Greg Hottman.

Late last week (Sept. 22), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to list the rusty patched bumble bee as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. According to the National Sorghum Producers, this is troubling news for farmers, pesticide manufacturers, property developers, timber harvesters and others.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports that:

“The species’ ability to sustain populations over time has declined, and is expected to continue to decline into the future. All measures of its historical biological condition indicate that B. affinis was abundant and widely distributed … covering most of the Midwestern and eastern U.S. and areas of Quebec and Ontario, representing 15 ecoregions. Since the late 1990s, marked and precipitous declines have been recorded in spatial extent and in the number of extant populations. Although the ultimate source of the acute and widespread decline is debated, and despite that the relative role and synergistic effects of the primary stressors are unknown, the decline in B. affinis is undisputable. Regardless of the uncertainty in the causative factors, at least one if not all, stressors are likely to continue affecting the remaining populations. The magnitude and extent of losses to date have greatly reduced the ability of B. affinis to adapt to changing environmental conditions and to guard against further losses of adaptive diversity and potential extinction due to catastrophic events.”

If listed, the bumble bee would be the first bee species listed as an endangered species in the continental United States. Public comments will be accepted through Nov. 21.