It’s Official – First Bee Has Just Been Added to Endangered Species List

It is really tragically that the rusty-patched bumble bee has now joined the grizzly bear, northern spotted owl, gray wolf, and some 700 others on the endangered species list. This is the first bee ever to garner those protections in the continental United States.

The rusty patched bumble bee’s population has been destroyed by as much as 95 percent by some estimates. Now it exists only in isolated pockets in 12 states and the province of Ontario, Canada.

James Strange, a research entomologist and bumble bee ecologist with the USDA told Forbs that there are a few little spots where they are, the spots that are familiar to them.

Bombus affinis is a scientific name of this bee and is also named for the red patch on its abdomen.

Actually, the campaign to list that rusty patched bumble bee as endangered took years.  Entomologists and environmental groups had made a Herculean effort, but the resulting historic precedent highlights the precarious state of vital pollinators.

They believe that listing rusty patched bumble bee was historic because this is the first bumble bee species. This campaign lasted five years, thanks to the environmental groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. The campaign was based on input from tens of thousands of citizen scientists and private citizens.

Sarah Jepsen, director of Xerces Society endangered species announced that they were thrilled to see one of North America’s most endangered species receive the protection it needs. Now, the rusty-patched bumble bee as endangered stands a chance of surviving.

There is a big influence for the bee loss of habitat and human encroachment, however, the classification as endangered will help in conservation of the open fields and tall grasses, where the rusty-patched bee and other pollinators should prosper.

According to Rich Hatfield, a Xerces Society senior conservation biologist, along with the rusty patched bumble bee, the entire suite of pollinators that share its habitat, and can be so critical to natural ecosystems and agriculture, will also benefit. This positive step towards the conservation of this species, stimulates concerned people to roll up their sleeves and to begin the actual on-the-ground conservation.

This designation of the rusty-patched bumble bee as an endangered species could be a robust challenge for several corporations, industries, and developers. However, the rejuvenation of the species is still far from certain.

There is a petition signed by many companies that think this is a hasty listing decision, requesting a year’s delay of it.

The cosigners of the petition, without a hint of irony, go on to believe that the listing of the rusty-patched bumble bee as endangered species is “one of the most significant species listings in decades for the human activities.

The Washington Post predicts that the coalition of signatories might yet file a lawsuit of its own. They actually want to de-list the bee and receive the desired yearlong waiting period because they see the protection of this species as an insufferable encumbrance for humans.

Opposition to the listing is actually counterproductive, especially since the rusty-patched bumble bee isn’t a uniquely threatened pollinator.

A conducted study by the Center for Biological Diversity, named “Pollinators in Peril,” discovered 347 species of bees native to North America and Hawai that “are spiraling toward extinction,” and 749 bee species have been pushed to the brink with declinations in population.

Even though saving the bees might not be on the agenda for certain parties, there are more than 128,000 people signed a petition urging the listing of the rusty-patched bumble bee.


The Xerces Society pressed release that a few disappearing species have engendered this level of support for protection. Thanks to this collective effort the rusty-patched bumble bee now has a chance — and that is something that should be celebrated.

The only way the bumble bee would have a fighting chance for survival now is the Endangered Species Act safeguards.



–           Claire Bernish, The Free Thought Project –




Leave a Reply