Conserving the Nature of America
Press Release
Yellow-Banded Bumble Bee Does Not Warrant Federal Protection

August 14, 2019

Contact(s):

Meagan Racey, 413-253-8557, meagan_racey@fws.gov



Did you enjoy blueberry pie this summer? Give a nod to the yellow-banded bumble bee. This black and gold invertebrate helps pollinate blueberry, cranberry and blackberry flowers that yield some of nature’s most delicious fruits. 

A recently completed peer-reviewed status assessment of the pollinator found that although the yellow-banded bumble bee may experience some ongoing declines, it is likely to persist across much of its range. Thus, the species does not warrant listing as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. 

The yellow-banded bumble bee was historically found in 25 states and 12 provinces, with most of its range in Canada, stretching down to the United States into the northern Rocky Mountains all the way east to the Appalachian Mountains and north to Maine. The bumble bee is believed to still occur across much of its Canadian range, but available survey data indicate that its U.S. range has shrunk along the southern fringe and Great Lakes region to 14 states (Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin). 

Threats to the species include habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation; use of pesticides and herbicides; pathogens and parasites related to managed bees; genetic inbreeding; and changes in temperature and precipitation that may reduce habitat and food resources. 

Additionally, the Service is working with transportation and energy partners on an agreement that aims to address conservation needs for the monarch butterfly on millions of acres of rights-of-way and associated lands across 48 states, with benefits to some other pollinators.

One of the first bumble bees to emerge in spring, the yellow-banded bumble bee queens rely on early spring flowers for fuel, protection and nutrients. In the fall, the bees in the yellow-banded bumble bee colony die, and only the newly mated queens overwinter. Their survival and next year’s colony hinge on nectar and pollen from late fall flowers and suitable places to hibernate. 

More information regarding the species and the Service’s listing determination is available here: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/08/15/2019-17536/endangered-and-threatened-species-12-month-findings-on-petitions-to-list-eight-species-as-endangered. On August 15, supporting documents will be available at www.regulations.gov under docket FWS–R5–ES–2016–0024.

The public can help conserve native pollinators by:

  • Avoiding or limiting pesticide use whenever possible. Pesticides can be lethal to bees and other pollinators.  Use Integrated Pest Managementin yards, gardens and farmlands.
  • Growing a garden or adding a native flowering tree or shrub to yards. Even small areas or containers on patios can provide nectar and pollen.
  • Avoiding invasive non-native plants and removing them if they invade your yard.
  • Allowing some yard areas to be unmowed and brushy. Many bumble bees build nests and hibernate in undisturbed soil, abandoned rodent burrows or grass clumps.
  • Following best management practices for beekeeping and managing pests and disease responsibly for the health of honey bees and the native bee community.

Learn more at https://www.fws.gov/pollinators/PollinatorPages/YourHelp.html.  

The Service is supporting various conservation efforts for native bees and other pollinators. In New England, we have partnered with USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service to support landowners interested in voluntary conservation benefitting the yellow-banded bumble bee and other species. Our goal is to enroll over 1,200 private landowners and restore 7,500 acres of habitat over 25 years. Learn more in our blog post, A fruitful new partnership for farmers and pollinators. 

The effort to conserve America’s at-risk wildlife and recover listed species is led by the Service and state wildlife agencies in partnership with other government agencies, private landowners, conservation groups, tribes, businesses, utilities and others. The Service has drawn support for its use of incentives and flexibilities within the ESA to protect rare wildlife, reduce regulations and keep working lands working.

Access the species status assessment


The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

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