Thursday, August 22nd, 2019

Wake up call — Bumble Bee just proposed for U.S. Endangered Species status

Published on September 24, 2016 by   ·   No Comments

Earlier this month, mosquito eradication efforts in South Carolina, gone horribly wrong, resulted in almost total devastation to the indigenous bee populations. The pesticide used to target the Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti species of mosquito, which can carry and transmit the Zika virus, killed off millions of bees. This single incident is one of many that have been laying waste to beneficial pollinators which has now led to the bumblebee’s proposed listing as an endangered species.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Wednesday proposed listing the rusty patched bumblebee, a prized but vanishing pollinator once widely found in the upper Midwest and Northeastern United States, for federal protection as an endangered species, according toReuters.

The Bumblebee is one of several wild bee species seen declining in the last couple of decades. It has now become the first ever bee in the continental United States formally proposed for listing under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

Bumblebees, as distinguished from domesticated honey bees, are essential pollinators of wildflowers and about a third of U.S. crops, from blueberries to tomatoes, said Sarina Jepsen of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, which petitioned the government for protection of the insect, as reported by Reuters.

According to experts, bumblebees’ contribution to farms is estimated at a whopping $3.5 billion.

The rusty patched species is one of 47 varieties of native bumblebees in the United States and Canada, more than a quarter of which face a risk of extinction, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Population declines among wild bees are much more difficult to document than those in honey bees, which are for the most part managed commercially and whose numbers are carefully tracked by beekeepers, Jespen said, as reported by Reuters.

According to Reuters, Jepsen said protections proposed for the rusty patched bumblebee will intensify the debate over the degree to which so-called neonicotinoid pesticides, routinely used in agriculture and applied to plants and trees in gardens and parks, have contributed to the decline of native bees.

While there is still debate over neonicotinoid pesticides, the only one not recognizing their harm — is the industry that uses them.

In the 1980s, Bayer developed a potent new class of pesticide called neonicotinoids (neonics), which rapidly came to dominate industrial agriculture. In 2008, they represented 24 percent of the global market for insecticides, with Imidacloprid becoming the most widely used insecticide in the world.

Almost all U.S. corn and about one-third of U.S. soybean is treated with neonics. A “major advance” happened when agribusiness developed neonic-coated seeds, where every part of the growing plant becomes infused with the toxin, including pollen.

After government regulators, deep in the pockets of agribusiness, rushed to approve neonics for commercial sale, scientific studies began documenting the ecological impacts. Bird populations and other insectivores declined due to a lack of insect prey, as neonics became more widely used.

In 2006 we began seeing dramatic die-offs of honeybee populations, which play a vital role in pollinating food crops. Colony collapse disorder became a common occurrence, with bees showing classic signs of insecticide poisonings such as tremors, uncoordinated movement and convulsions.

Dead bees in and around hives showed the presence of neonics, and new research found that low-levels of neonics in bees made them susceptible to viral infections and mites, and reduced the reproductive ability of queen bees. Corn and dandelion pollen brought back to hives routinely tested positive for neonics.

Other insects are devastated by neonics, including the North American bumblebee which has seen a 90 percent decline. The threat to wild bees, honey bees and other pollinators is becoming ever more clear as more studies come out.

Now, the first long-term study of neonic impacts on wild bees has confirmed that the popular pesticide is linked to long-term bee decline.

Read More HERE

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