Important news you might have missed today: Bees listed as endangered

There’s lots of things happening right now that will have the news services busy for the entire day like:

  • Critiquing President-Elect Trump’s first press conference in 6 months.
  • President Obama’s own final address to the nation last night is still being talked about.
  • In additional news, President Obama is considering giving clemency to Chelsea Manning, the “former Army intelligence analyst serving a 35-year sentence for leaking classified material” – NBC News.
  • Rain storms  continue to pummel the Northern California, Nevada and parts of Oregon and Washington states.
  • And then there’s the whole Volkswagen mess that I’m still waiting for the German auto maker to issue their press releases about.
  • This doesn’t even begin to address world news!

 

Amidst all the other news today, there’s an important press release that you might have missed.

This morning, Reuters reported that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that for the first time ever, they are listing the rusty patched bumble bee, native to North America on their endangered list.

The original press release states that the main habitat for the rusty patched bumble bee is the Upper Midwest and Northeast portions of the U.S., but many states have seen such a decline in this particular species that there are so few that “it is unclear whether they still exist” in certain states.

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Photo of the rusty patched bumble bee by Joanna James-Heinz as found on the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation website.

According to the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, the “major threats to bumble bees include: spread of pests and diseases by the commercial bumble bee industry, other pests and diseases, habitat destruction or alteration, pesticides, invasive species, natural pest or predator population cycles, and climate change.”

Why is this so important? 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says that:

“Bumble bees are keystone species in most ecosystems, necessary not only for native wildflower reproduction, but also for creating seeds and fruits that feed wildlife as diverse as songbirds and grizzly bears.

 

Bumble bees are among the most important pollinators of crops such as blueberries, cranberries, and clover and almost the only insect pollinators of tomatoes. Bumble bees are more effective pollinators than honey bees for some crops because of their ability to “buzz pollinate.”

Can you imagine a world without the beauty and fragrance of wildflowers? Or the sweet taste of fresh blueberries? How about a Thanksgiving without cranberry sauce? My husband is Italian and “requires” his weekly pasta and pizza nights.  Those meals would be taken off our menu completely without tomatoes.

Far greater than whether or not we have certain foods, if the bee populations continue to diminish as they have had over the past few years, all food would cease to grow.  Simply put, no food, no us. That’s simply unthinkable.

The fact that the rusty patched bumble bee is now listed as an endangered species is pretty big news to miss or ignore.

So, what can you do to help conserve the endangered rusty patched bumble bee? Here are some tips from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service public service announcement:

Garden:

Grow a garden or add a flowering tree or shrub to your yard. Even small areas or containers on patios can provide nectar and pollen for native bees.


Native plants:

Use native plants in your yard such as lupines, asters, bee balm, native prairie plants and spring ephemerals. Don’t forget spring blooming shrubs like ninebark and pussy willow! Avoid invasive non-native plants and remove them if they invade your yard. For more information on attracting native pollinators, visit www.fws.gov/pollinators/pdfs/PollinatorBookletFinalrevWeb.pdf.


Natural landscapes:

Provide natural areas – many bumble bees build nests in undisturbed soil, abandoned rodent burrows or grass clumps. Keep some unmowed, brushy areas and tolerate bumble bee nests if you find them. Reduce tilling soil and mowing where bumble bees might nest. Support natural areas in your community,


Minimize:

Limit the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizer whenever possible or avoid them entirely. Pesticides cause lethal and sublethal effects to bees and other pollinators.

  • Also, if you are a parent or teacher and would like to teach your children about bee conservation, the HoneyBee Conservancy recommends 5 children’s books you can read together.

One of those is

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Photo of What if There Were No Bees by Suzanne Slade cover art as found on the HoneyBee Conservancy website.

Thanks for reading and following prdoctorit.

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