9 Draft recovery plan for rusty patched bumble bee available for comment
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Draft recovery plan for rusty patched bumble bee available for comment

January 29, 2020

A rusty patched bumble bee on a wild bergamot blossom
A rusty patched bumble bee on a wild bergamot blossom. Photo by USFWS.

We at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are seeking public comment on a draft plan to recover the rusty patched bumble bee. In 2017, the bee was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. The draft recovery plan outlines general management actions and criteria that indicate when the Rusty patched bee may be considered recovered and eligible to be removed from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife.

Federal and state agencies and conservation partners use recovery plans to guide voluntary actions to recover threatened and endangered species to the point that federal protections are no longer needed. The draft plan for the rusty patched bumble bee includes actions such as land management to improve habitat quality and measures to reduce exposure to pesticides and disease-causing pathogens.

Historically, distribution was broadly across the eastern and upper Midwest United States. Prior to listing, the species experienced a widespread and precipitous decline, with populations plummeting by approximately 87 percent in the past two decades. The Rusty patched bumble bee is now found in small, scattered populations in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Ontario, Canada.

The cause of the bee’s drastic decline is unknown, but evidence suggests a harmful interaction between a disease-causing pathogen and exposure to pesticides. Other threats to the insect include habitat loss and degradation, competition and disease introduction from commercial bees, and climate change.

The rusty patched bumble bee lives in colonies, which are formed by solitary queens emerging from overwintering sites. The species needs nectar-producing flowers for food, undisturbed nesting habitat near food sources and overwintering habitat to survive.

We are working with states, tribes, non-governmental organizations, academia and private landowners and managers to carry out recovery actions for the bee. Rusty patched bumble bee is a prime example of the larger worldwide decline of pollinators and others insects. Studying and responding to this issue could help scientists understand and address other insect population declines.

Review the draft recovery plan for the rusty patched bumble bee and learn more about the species. Comments will be accepted through February 24, 2020. Instructions on how to submit comments can be found on regulations.gov using docket number FWS–R3–ES–2019–0100.

Comments can also be mailed or hand-delivered to:

Public Comments Processing, Attn: Docket No. FWS–R3–ES–2019–0100; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters, MS: JAO/1N; 5275 Leesburg Pike; Falls Church, VA 22041–3803.