Hold that swat! Bee makes endangered species list

The rusty patched bumble bee gained federal protection Tuesday

The endangered rusty patched bumblebee
The endangered rusty patched bumblebee

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – This week the Trump administration reversed course on things environmentally friendly and added the bumblebee to the list of endangered species.

The rusty patched bumble bee gained federal protection Tuesday after the Trump administration removed its hold on listing the species as endangered. SPECIES PROFILE 

This particular bee is the latest in a growing list of threatened pollinators with big implications for what we eat.

In eastern Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains National Park, the only place you can now see a rusty patched bumble bee is inside a drawer as part of the park’s nature collection. Entomologist Becky Nichols leads the study of insects there. She says the bees haven’t been seen in the park since 2001.

Over the last twenty years, the species has suffered a 90 percent decline in population and habitat – a range that that once included 28 states and stretched into the upper Midwest and Northeast. They face many threats.

“Loss of habitat protectors, pesticides, diseases, all of these things can contribute to the overall decline of pollinators,” Nichols said.

Bumblebees, honey bees, butterflies – in all, about forty percent of invertebrate pollinator species now face extinction. About S75 percent of the world’s food supply depends, at least partly, on what they do.

“everyone in three bites of food is pollinated by bees. A huge factor is the bumble bee itself. A lot of our food is dependent upon these bees. If that is not important, I am not sure what is,” said Sydney Cameron, professor at the University of Illinois.

But Nichols sees new hope. She says placing the bees on the endangered list could act as a wakeup call to what happening to our pollinators and how important they are to us.

According to NOAA and the Endangered Species Act, you are no longer allowed to kill or harm any rusty patch bumble bee unless it is a life-threatening situation.

So make sure you check the species of bee before you remove a swarm.

If you remove this particular bee, you can face a hefty fine.

A few weeks ago, First News Meteorologist Alex George reported that bees are expected to swarm soon. Experts in her report said the worst thing to do is to try and kill a swarm with pesticides. Calling a beekeeper is your best chance of a safe, and now, lawful removal of the bees.



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