http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/238449

Bumblebees Vanishing Along With The Honeybee

Posted Oct 8, 2007 by KJ Mullins
It's not just the honeybee that is vanishing, the bumblebee population seems to be dwindling also. With the bumblebee joining the honeybee on the endangered and vanishing list food production is facing a serious crisis.
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Robin Thorp, professor of entomology from the University of California at Davis searched California and Oregon for the Franklin bumblebee this year and only found one worker.
The fear is that the bee vanished before anyone even knew it was endangered. Two other species of bumblebees have also become rare when just a few years ago they were plentiful.
While attention has been drawn to the honeybee this year the plight of the bumblebee has seemingly gone unnoticed. If the bumblebee were to disappear along with the honeybee the farmers and scientists of the world say the effect would be huge.
Honeybees pollinate much of the food humans eat while bumblebees do the same thing. Tomatoes, peppers and strawberries rely on the pollination of the fuzzy bumblebee.
Wildlife also would be endangered by the demise of the bumblebee. The fruits and berries that feed many wild animals need the bumblebee.
The same problems are facing the bumblebee that have faced the honeybee except for the colony collapse illness. Those factors include habitat lost to housing developments and intensive agriculture, pesticides, pollution and diseases spilling out of greenhouses using commercial bumblebee hives.
In short we humans are to blame.
There is hope, farmers can grow more flowers to feed native species.
"We are smart enough to deal with this," said Laurie Adams, executive director of the Pollinator Partnership. "There is hope."
In the early 1990's bumblebees were adapted to work on commercial farms in Europe, Israel and Canada. With the demise of the honeybee the bumblebee is needed even more.
Bumblebees are native to North America unlike the honeybee which was brought over from Europe during the colonisation period.
Scott Black, executive director of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation in Portland, worries that on top of pesticides and narrowing habitats, disease could be the last straw for many of the bee species.
"It definitely could all come crashing down," he said.