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Endangered Bumble Bees

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As of March 21st, the Rusty Patched Bumblebee has been placed on the endangered species list.   The federal government has to now help protect them. There are 700 species currently on this list.  

The bee’s scientific name is bombus affinis.  Since the 1990s, 87% of the population of the bees have decreased. They only exist in nine states as of the writing of this article.  They originally existed in twenty eight states.  As for how much conservation it needs, it is listed as CR (critically endangered).  This is the first time in the whole history of the United States that a bumble bee has been considered endangered.  

From one study done from 2007 to 2009, there were  only 16,000 bees as compared to 73,000 before. They are found in Illinois, Massachusetts, Ohio, Virginia, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Maine, Iowa, and Indiana. At present, the bees are most likely found in only 0.1% of where they were first found.  A Rusty Patched Bumblebee must have three different habitats in order to survive:  one for scouting for food, one for hibernating, and one for making a nest.  All the habitats must be pretty close to each other.  This makes it harder to survive, because if one place is down, others nearby may fall too.  Before the 1980s, it was the most common bumblebee in Ontario, Canada.   Now in Ontario, it is one of the most rare.

They are dying because of habitat loss, pesticides (sprays used for pests), and diseases from other species. The Gypsy Cuckoo Bumblebee also endangers the Rusty Patched Bumblebee.   They end hibernation around the same time, and the females look for nests. Because large nests have many bees, the Gypsy Cuckoo Bumblebee can more easily take over smaller nests. They will kick bees out of their nest, leaving them homeless.  Also, Apicystis Bombi is a disease that can easily infect a bee´s gut.  Once infected, it spreads throughout their body. This infection happens to 3% of bees.

You can help them!  In the range where you can find them, you can plant bee-friendly gardens and let weeds stay.   Some weeds may just be food for bees! You can also make a pool of water for them to drink. These are all great ways to help these gravely endangered  bees.  

 

 

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