The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service put the Rusty Patched Bumblebee on the list.

Rusty patched bumblebee is the first bee species to be listed as endangered in 48 adjoining US States.

Twenty years ago the bee was abundant in 28 states, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, but since the 1990s the population has declined almost 90 percent.

The decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the bumble bee - never done lightly - points up the sad decline of many pollinator species in general. This decline is the result of numerous factors, including climate change, pesticide exposure, habitat loss, and disease.

The endangered designation is made under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 for species at risk of becoming extinct throughout all or a portion of their range.

The listing of the bee species was finalized today (Jan. 11) after a five-year campaign by environmental groups. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, bumblebee has been placed in a "race against extinction" list.

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The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, a Portland-based group that petitioned for the endangered listing, preciously pinpointed the long-term use of insecticides as well as the spread of pathogens from commercially raised bumblebees to those living in the wild.

This rusty patched bumblebee lives in thirteen USA states - Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin - as well as in Ontario, Canada. Seven bee species native to Hawaii are now listed. A study continues on whether to list the monarch butterfly, agency spokeswoman Georgia Parham said. Since some 75 percent of food crops rely at least partially on pollinators, that raises serious concerns about the future of the global food supply.

Domestic honeybee colonies have bounced back from a low point in 2008 to a relatively stable number in the past year, though still short of the high seen in 1989. It is one of 47 bumblebee species in North America. Bumble bees are especially good pollinators; even plants that can self-pollinate produce more and bigger fruit when pollinated by bumble bees. Leave some areas of your yard un-mowed in summer and unraked in fall; in your garden and flower beds, leave some standing plant stems in winter.

For starters, plant flowers and food that bees like, like impatiens, basil, cilantro, raspberries, dogwood and lavender.

"Bumblebees are dying off, vanishing from our farms, gardens and parks, where they were once found in great numbers", said Rebecca Riley, senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).


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