Buzzing News: Bumblebee to be listed as endangered - WNEM TV 5

Buzzing News: Bumblebee to be listed as endangered

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Source: USFWS Source: USFWS

Federal regulators have designated a bee species in the continental United States as endangered.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service tells The Associated Press the rusty patched bumblebee is on the verge of extinction.

It was common in the East and Upper Midwest but numbers have fallen sharply since the late 1990s.

The nonprofit American Farm Bureau Federation acknowledged the role bees play in pollinating crops but contended the listing could lead to costly regulation of land or chemical use.

Bees help pollinate 35% of the world's food, and bumblebees pollinate everything from tomatoes to cranberries, blueberries and melons.

There are a number of reasons for the crash of pollinator bees worldwide. Mainly, those are habitat loss (nearly 40% of all land is used for agriculture, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization), climate change (the land that's left is changing, and this is shrinking the ranges of some bees) and rampant chemical use.

There are roughly 20,000 species of bees in the world. That's more species than birds, amphibians, reptiles or mammals.

Bumblebees live in underground colonies, caring for a queen. Worker bees -- females that don't reproduce because they're not the queen -- fly around during the day collecting flower pollen and nectar for food and energy.

They only live for a year, except the queen who is dormant during the winter and emerges in the spring to begin a new colony with eggs fertilized during the prior fall.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press / CNN. All rights reserved. 

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