Seven species of bees will now see federal laws attempt to protect them from colony collapse
In an effort to turn the tide on the faith of the bee, the United States has put seven bee species on its list of endangered species for the first time. The decision, made by the US Fish & Wildlife Service, means the insects, whose role in plant pollination is an essential part of agriculture, will receive federal protection in order to conserve their habitats.
According to the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, bee species all over the world face numerous threats from disease, loss of habitat, pesticides, and the effects of climate change. The environmental group believes that the biggest factor contributing to the decline of the bumble bee and their close relation the rusty-patched bumble comes from the spread of pathogens from man-raised bees sold to pollinate commercial greenhouses. When mixed into the wild population, the diseases can lead to colony collapse.
The rusty-patched bumble bee has already been listed as “critically endangered” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List, and its addition to the USFW list comes after a legal battle kicked off by a 2013 petition.
“This decision comes not a moment too soon,” said Rebecca Riley, senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Bee populations, including thousands of species of wild bees, are in crisis across the country, and the rusty-patched bumble bee is one of the most troubling examples.”
Calling the bees’ inclusion on the list a “critical step forward,” Riley said the move would improve the health of the country’s ecosystem and help secure the national food chain.