U.S. Bumblebee Gets Federal Protection … Finally
The bees' population has declined nearly 90% in 20 years
In case you missed it … The rusty patched bumblebee has officially been put on the endangered species list, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says, after a delay and concerns that the species might not receive federal protection.
The bumblebee was scheduled to join the endangered species list on February 10; but the Trump administration, via the Fish and Wildlife Service, imposed a “freeze” on the listing just one day before the protections could take effect. With Trump promising to cut “unnecessary” regulations, many feared that the rusty patched bumble bee would fall into that category and be axed from the list. 
Rebecca Riley, senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), said that:
“The Trump administration reversed course and listed the rusty patched bumblebee as an endangered species just in the nick of time. Federal protections may be the only thing standing between the bumblebee and extinction.”
Earlier this year, the NRDC filed a lawsuit in federal court, asking the court to stop the federal government from violating the law by freezing the rusty patched bumblebee’s listing. The suit could be replaced by another from a coalition of oil, housing developers, and farm and energy lobbies that petitioned the Interior Department for a year-long delay in adding the bees to the list.
The bumblebee was originally placed on the endangered species list by the Fish and Wildlife Service due to a decline of about 90% in the species’ population over the past two decades – a loss caused by pesticides, disease, climate change, and habitat loss. It has the unique distinction of being the first bee of any type in the continental U.S. to receive the designation. Last fall, the Obama Administration designated 7 species of yellow-faced bees in Hawaii as endangered. 
The rusty patched bumblebee used to be a regular fixture across 28 U.S. states from Connecticut to South Dakota. Today, it can only be found in small, scattered populations in 13 states.
Bumblebees are vital pollinators of about a third of all U.S. crops, including blueberries and cranberries, and are almost the only insect pollinator of tomatoes in the U.S. 
How to Help the Rusty Patched Bumblebee
Through Bumble Bee Watch, volunteers can submit photos online of bumblebees they’ve spotted, along with date, time, and location information. The information gets added to the Bumble Bee Watch website, where the project’s bumblebee experts determine which species is in the photo. Some volunteers even join local groups that conduct coordinated monitoring efforts. 
You can also grow a garden or add native flowering trees or shrubs to your yard and steer clear of pesticide use.
It also helps to leave some areas of your yard unmowed or unraked in the fall, as bumblebees need safe places to build their nests and overwinter. Additionally, try leaving standing plant stems in gardens and flower beds in the winter.
 U.S. NEWS
Julie Fidler is a freelance writer, legal blogger, and the author of Adventures in Holy Matrimony: For Better or the Absolute Worst. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two ridiculously spoiled cats. She occasionally pontificates on her blog.