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article imageSeveral species of bee declared endangered in the U.S.

By Tim Sandle     Oct 23, 2016 in Environment
Further troubling news for bees, and with it worrying news for agriculture, with seven new species of bee being declared at risk in the U.S. The bees have been placed on the list of endangered species.
The most recent bee to be added to the list, which is held by the United States Fish and Wildlife service, is the rusty patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis.) To add to this, seven Hawaii-based yellow-faced bee species have recently been declared endangered (they are called yellow-faced bees because of colored markings on their faces.) These bees are: Hylaeus anthracinus, H. assimulans, H. facilis, H. hilaris, H. kuakea, H. longiceps, and H. mana.
The protection for these bees has come about following action, and a petition, from the Xerces Society. The aim was to gain recognition and protection for these bees. The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation is an international nonprofit organization that protects wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitats. The society is named after the extinct Xerces Blue butterfly.
According to the Federal Register, there are multiple reasons for the new species to be declared endangered, and being added to those bee species already on the list. These reasons are:
Habitat loss as the result of development of land for human living,
Predation by other animals,
Natural disasters that destroy habitats and kill bees,
Human intervention that poisons or kills the species (such as the use of pesticides),
Vulnerability from low numbers and the inability to reproduce quickly enough,
Competition from invasive species that are not native to the region.
Of the various causes, human intervention is perhaps the most significant. Recently, Laboratory Roots reports, millions of South Carolina-based bees were killed by insecticides. The insecticides were sprayed by the local officials to control mosquitoes and to prevent Zika transmission.
The most dangerous pesticides are neonicotinoids, although these were not used in the South Carolina incident. Neonicotinoids are a class of neuro-active insecticides chemically similar to nicotine. These chemicals are restricted in some regions in Canada and most of Europe but their use is permitted in parts of the U.K. and the U.S.
The implications are significant for agriculture and ultimately food supply. With the rusty patched bumble bee, for example, this bee is an important pollinator of all kinds of plants across the U.S., in up to 28 states.
More about Bees, Conservation, Agriculture, Pesticides, Climate change
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