The plight of the bumble bee is getting serious. On Tuesday January 10, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officially listed the rusty patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis) as an endangered species.
According to the USFWS, the bee has seen a steep decline in population from the 1990s, when it could be found across 31 states, to a current low point of just 13. Possible factors include climate change, habitat loss, pesticides, and pathogens introduced by commercially produced bees that circulate in the wild.
The status of Bombus affinis is particularly concerning since the bees are usually found pollinating several key crops, including apples, cranberries, and plums. The Service also notes that B. affinis is the first bumble bee to be classified as endangered. Under this protection, activities known to harm the bee will be restricted, and the U.S. government will be charged with arranging a protection plan to preserve the bee's population.
[h/t Scientific American]