The USFWS has listed seven bee species native to Hawaii as endangered, effective October 31, 2016. This yellow-faced bee species pollinates crucial food crops. Finally, the federal government has recognized that the decline of some bees has created a perilous situation.
Although yellow-faced bees are found throughout the world, the seven bee species listed as endangered only do their work in Hawaii — work which also serves to pollinate many of the endangered plant species found in Hawaii.
Pollinators are vital to our ecosystem. They transfer pollen between plants, which allow the plants to make seeds and reproduce. With this first recognition of their importance to our food web, there’s hope for future listing of other pollinators that work throughout the USA. Listing them as endangered will give their plight the attention and the funding they need to begin efforts to protect these vital workers.
Due to habitat loss, pesticides, wildfires, parasites and disease, our native pollinators may not be able to provide sufficient pollination to keep us in fruits, nuts and vegetables in the future — foods crucial to human and wildlife well-being. Native landscapers are doing their best to provide habitat. Citizen scientists are gathering scientific data. But it will take more than volunteer efforts to aid in the recovery and protection of these essential insects. With this first listing under the Endangered Species Act, at least we have a start.