Prior to President Obama leaving office, he issued an Executive Order to place the Rusty Patched Bumblebee (Bombus affinis) on the Endangered Species List. It’s listing was to take place February 10th. One of President Trump’s first actions was to delay all regulations that weren’t in effect prior to his inauguration for 60 days. Hopefully, the bumblebee’s designation will take effect on March 21st.
The Rusty Patched Bumblebee which is so important to the maintenance of our ecosystems has declined dramatically since the 1990s. It used to buzz from the East Coast and throughout much of the Midwest, but now buzzes in small, scattered groups in only 13 states.
The decline in the bumblebees probably mirrors many, if not all, the same factors which have contributed to the decline of monarchs and other pollinators. Last year seven species of the Yellow-Faced Bees in Hawaii were placed on the endangered list.
Bees, bats, butterflies and other insects provide pollination for many of our food crops such as fruits, vegetables, berries and nuts, as well as horticultural and native plants. They are an essential part of our natural food chains. However, “of the 100 crops that account for 90 percent of the food eaten around the globe, 71 rely on bee pollination, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.” (The New York Times)
Free-roaming bees are subject to Colony Collapse Disorder just as commercial bees are, but there are many other factors affecting bumblebees as well — climate change, pesticides, parasites, disease, development. We can do our part by providing habitat of native plants and natural landscapes, but regulating the use of pesticides will be the biggest help. Pesticides influence the overall health of bees by affecting their immune systems which makes them less resistant to disease and parasites.
This is the start of the growing season in the coastal states. Even if the designation does take place by March 21st, a good portion of another season will have gone by without guidelines on pesticides in place to save the Rusty Patched Bumblebee.
Now is the time for you to contact your legislators to let them know how you feel about the USA listing the Rusty Patched Bumblebee as endangered. The Rusty Patched Bumblebee is already listed as “endangered” under Canada’s Species at Risk Act and as “critically endangered” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List.
So, don’t delay. Go to Congress.gov and contact your legislators right away.
Read more about protecting endangered species against pesticides.
Note: The Natural Resources Defense Council has filed a lawsuit in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York arguing that the rule technically is law because it was published in the Federal Register.