Late last month, the United States identified 7 species of yellow-faced bees for protection under the Endangered Species Act. Once prolific throughout the Hawaiian islands, these yellow-faced bees have declined rapidly in population in recent years like so many wild bee species throughout the United States. Habitat loss, wildfire, development, and invasive plant and insect species have all contributed to the endangerment of a species responsible for pollinating many of the islands’ endangered native plant species.
There is no distinct land area to be protected since the bees move throughout the entirety of the islands. Under the federal safeguards, authorities will implement critical recovery programs, gain access to funding, and limit sources of harm to the bees. The conservation group Xerces Society, along with other independent researchers and government officials, studied the yellow-faced bees for years before they were finally listed as endangered.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also proposed adding the rusty-patched bumble bee to the endangered species list. The rusty-patched bumble bee was once very populous in the northeastern and midwestern U.S.,but has declined from about 87% of its historic range in the past several years, according to the Xerces Society.
Not only will adding these bees to the endangered species list protect the yellow-faced bees and encourage the recovery of the species, it will also raise awareness for the plight of other pollinators, many of whom are also on the decline. Honey bees in particular have experienced a huge population loss due to disease, pesticides, fungicides, herbicides and habitat loss. We rely heavily on bees to pollinate our crops, and without them we’d find very little in the way of fruits, vegetables, and nuts in the grocery store. With a decline in pollinators like honey bees, solitary bees, wasps, and even flies, our natural environment’s vitality is in danger.
To learn more about our efforts to improve bee health and how you can provide a home for pollinators of your very own, checkout our partner, The Best Bees Company. For more information on yellow faced bees, and other threatened pollinators, see below for links to other great resources.