Bumblebees make US endangered-species list for first time

In buzzworthy news, the US Fish and Wildlife Service now protects the rusty patched bumblebee.

Bonnie Burton
Journalist Bonnie Burton writes about movies, TV shows, comics, science and robots. She is the author of the books Live or Die: Survival Hacks, Wizarding World: Movie Magic Amazing Artifacts, The Star Wars Craft Book, Girls Against Girls, Draw Star Wars, Planets in Peril and more! E-mail Bonnie.
Bonnie Burton
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Help save the humble rusty patched bumblebee, now officially listed as an endangered species.

Video screenshot by Bonnie Burton/CNET

The rusty patched bumblebee is finally getting the attention it deserves. It's the first bumblebee in the United States to be listed as endangered.

The bee is one of the pollinators experiencing serious declines across the country, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

"Why is this important? Pollinators are small but mighty parts of the natural mechanism that sustains us and our world," Midwest Regional Director Tom Melius said in a statement in January. "Without them, our forests, parks, meadows and shrub lands, and the abundant, vibrant life they support, cannot survive, and our crops require laborious, costly pollination by hand."

The listing became effective Tuesday. The species was initially set to get protected status last month, following a January announcement before President Barack Obama left office. But the listing was delayed after Donald Trump became president and ordered a temporary freeze on new regulations, according to The Washington Post.

Since the late '90s, the rusty patched bumblebee population has fallen by 87 percent, leaving tiny, scattered populations in 13 states and one province, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Some possible causes for the bee's decline include disease, parasites, pesticides and climate change.

People who want to do their part to help aid the bumblebee's survival are encouraged to plant native flowers (even in cities) using any variety that will bloom from spring through fall.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service also suggests people limit or avoid use of pesticides entirely. People should also allow grass and garden plants to grow after summer to provide a habitat for overwintering bees.

The rusty patched bumblebee joins seven species of yellow-faced bees native to Hawaii that were given endangered status by the Fish and Wildlife Service last year.

First published Jan. 11.
Update, March 21, 12:30 p.m. PT: Adds information about the bumblebee officially joining the list today, after a delay earlier this year.

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