As if there weren’t enough bad news recently, National Geographic recently confirmed that the rusty-patched bumblebee can officially be declared an endangered species. Yay, humanity! (sarcasm).
The so-called rusty-patched bumblebee is on the brink of extinction, with populations in the USA falling down by up to 90% in some areas. The Bombus affinis bumblebee is one of the 3,000 species of bees in the USA, and the list may soon get smaller.
The rusty-patched bumblebee gets its name after the red patch on its abdomen. Scientists were sure that it will appear on the list of endangered species last year, yet it somehow held on for a whole year.
According to ecologist James Stranger, there are only a few spots in the USA where these bees can now be found. Verging on the brink of extinction, Stranger suggests that the government must take immediate action in order to preserve this vital bee. Bumblebees are important pollinators of clover, cranberries, blueberries, and tomatoes. The loss of this bee species may cost the US up to $3 billion per year due to reduced pollination.
What Led to This?
Human encroachment has played a major role in the rusty-patched bumblebee’s declining population. There is a positive side, however. Being put on the list of endangered species is a step in the right direction, as it will help preserve the tiny population of this bee species and possibly help it survive. It’s not just the rusty-patched bee in question – the immediate measures that are to be taken will also benefit an entire group of pollinators that share its ecosystem.
At the same time, this also brings many new challenges. Some experts expect lawsuits from certain organizations trying to de-list the rusty-patched bumblebee which can have devastating consequences on the bee species and the environment as well. Over a third of plants in the USA depend on pollinators, so if there’s no bumblebee to pollinate them, the economy will suffer a loss. This is why opposition to the listing is actually harmful.
A large number of people as well as politicians think that conservation efforts should start immediately in order to reduce the declining bee population. If we lose the bees, whole ecosystems will suffer as a result, and as a result of that, the world will suffer too.