In October, the US government announced that seven species of Hawaiian Yellow-Faced Bees were added to the endangered species list. This marks the first time a US bee species has been added to the list and will receive federal protection.
Not only are the bees severely threatened but native plants that depend on their pollination are also at risk. These bees live in diverse habitats on the Hawaiian Islands and like most species of native bees, they nest in the ground and in hollow plant stems. Human development and invasive plant species have contributed to the loss of habitat and plant diversity they depend on for year round sources of nectar and pollen. While this group is the first to be officially added to the list, the US Fish and Wildlife Service recommended adding the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee as well. This bumble bee species was common throughout the east and upper Midwest. Loss of habitat and pesticide use are primary factors in their decline. Hopefully the official designation to the US endangered species list is a wake up call which will spur action to create protected habitat areas and generate the necessary funding to save our bees!
You can take action at home to help bees and all pollinators. The Xerces Society recommends 3 things to help pollinators survive: flowers in bloom from early spring through fall, a safe place to build their nest and overwinter and a pesticide and disease free environment. Additional information and a list of resources can be found on the Xerces Society Website at www.xerces.org