For the first time in the U.S., the endangered species list has unfortunately welcomed some of the busiest workers we know: bees.
The big news comes from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who determined that seven species of yellow-faced bees native to Hawaii will now be protected under the Endangered Species Act. The bees, which look like wasps with yellow-to-white facial markings, hold the responsibility of pollinating indigenous plants in The Aloha State, many of which are also threatened.
So what's been causing the decrease in the population? Some studies suggest it's an overuse of pesticides that are responsible for the die-offs. Non-native bees, other invasive animal species, human development, and climate change are all possible factors as well.
Though many may not realize it, bees are extremely important to the nation's food industry. And over the past few years, the plight of bees has been continuously increasing and it's not just the seven species in Hawaii that are quickly declining. Though they haven't made it on the endangered species list in the U.S., the country's beekeepers lost around 40 percent of their honeybee colonies last year. And other bee populations, like the rusty patched bumblebee, are dwindling down at alarming rates - as much as 95 percent!
What can you do to help? Spread the word, plant pollinator-friendly habitats, and urge your state legislators and members of Congress to support policies like the Pollinator Recovery Act. Get the bee population buzzing again!