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Rusty Patched Bumble Bee (Bombus affinis)
Just 20 years ago, the rusty patched bumble bee was a common sight, so ordinary that it went almost unnoticed as it moved from flower to flower, collecting nectar and pollen. But it's now balancing precariously on the brink of extinction and has become the first-ever bumble bee in the United States -- and the first bee of any kind in the contiguous 48 states -- to be declared endangered.
The endangered designation means that the rusty patched bumble bee is in danger of becoming extinct throughout all or a portion of its range. Service Midwest Regional Director Tom Melius said, “Our top priority is to act quickly to prevent extinction of the rusty patched bumble bee. Listing the bee as endangered will help us mobilize partners and focus resources on finding ways right now to stop the decline.”
Once common and abundant across 28 states from Connecticut to South Dakota, the District of Columbia and two Canadian provinces, the rusty patched bumble bee has experienced a swift and dramatic decline since the late 1990s. Abundance of the rusty patched bumble bee has plummeted by 87 percent, leaving only a few small, scattered populations in 13 states and one province.
Current Range: IL, IN, IA, ME, MD, MA, MN, NC, OH, PA, TN, VA, WI and Ontario, Canada
Have you seen a rusty patched bumble bee?
Bumble Bee Watch - Bumble Bee Watch is a citizen science project to track and conserve North America’s bumble bees. The site provides useful identification information.
The Rusty Patched Bumble Bee: the story of a declining pollinator links to the Xerces Society
Last updated: January 17, 2017