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US Puts Bumblebee On the Endangered Species List For First Time (npr.org) 130

For the first time for a bumblebee and a bee species in the U.S., the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has designated the bumblebee an endangered species. The protected status goes into effect on February 10, and includes requirements for federal protections and the development of a recovery plan. NPR reports: "Today's Endangered Species listing is the best -- and probably last -- hope for the recovery of the rusty patched bumble bee," NRDC Senior Attorney Rebecca Riley said in a statement from the Xerces Society, which advocates for invertebrates. "Bumble bees are dying off, vanishing from our farms, gardens, and parks, where they were once found in great numbers." Large parts of the Eastern and Midwestern United States were once crawling with these bees, Bombus affinis, but the bees have suffered a dramatic decline in the last two decades due to habitat loss and degradation, along with pathogens and pesticides. Indeed, the bee was found in 31 states and Canadian provinces before the mid- to late-1990s, according to the final rule published in the Federal Register. But since 2000, it has been reported in only 13 states and Ontario, Canada. It has seen an 88 percent decline in the number of populations and an 87 percent loss in the amount of territory it inhabits. This means the species is vulnerable to extinction, the rule says, even without further habitat loss or insecticide exposure. Canada designated the species as endangered in 2012.
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US Puts Bumblebee On the Endangered Species List For First Time

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 13, 2017 @06:13AM (#53659655)

    Meanwhile my Dad is outside with his roundup backpack, spraying a big circle around the house...Chemical warfare against nature just isn't working out how we thought it might!

    • by arglebargle_xiv ( 2212710 ) on Friday January 13, 2017 @07:17AM (#53659801)
      It's not the roundup that's doing it, it's neonicotinoid insecticides. If you wanted to specifically design something to genocide bees, neonic insecticides would be about as close to ideal as you could get. So the solution to the problem would be to put neonics on the endangered-species list, and hope they fade out of the environment before the bees do.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 13, 2017 @08:54AM (#53660027)

        Well. Indirectly, it does. Roundup kills many "weed" that are actually useful wild plants that bumblebees feed on. The western "green grass patch" is an ecological desert. No flowers for insects to feed on, no insects for birds to feed on...

        If you let your grass grow a little wild your garden will attract many small creatures, and shortly after many birds, and mammals such as hedgehogs who feed on insects... Then you can spend a lot of fun times with family observing nature without going far away from home.

        Also Roundup fumes are probably giving your dad cancer right now. Maybe you could talk him out of using this shit, no?

        • There are no hedgehogs indigenous in America.

          • There are no hedgehogs indigenous in America.

            I found one in my yard before. We lived out in the country at the time.

      • Lobbyists (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 13, 2017 @08:56AM (#53660033)

        .So the solution to the problem would be to put neonics on the endangered-species list, and hope they fade out of the environment before the bees do.

        Then the pesticide industry will lobby the Republicans saying how it'll hurt business and jobs and profits. Eventually, there will be some sort of phase out agreed to that will take ten years for the pesticides to be stopped.

        In the meantime, there will be this PR blitz stating that the science isn't in and that the scientists who study it are saying the pesticides are killing bees because that's the only way they can get grants.

        Eventually, as our bees get destroyed and the skyrocketing of food prices, the EPA will be blamed for all the unnecessary regulations that caused the problem in the first place.

        Cigarette smoking, Air conditioning refrigerant, lead in gasoline are just a couple of instances off of the top of my head where business has put profits above human health. What a warped society we have where it's considered a valid argument to put corporate profits above human health.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          There's no need for lobbyists any more, they're all sitting at the heads of the departments now anyway.

          Drain the swamp? More like employ it.

        • Re:Lobbyists (Score:5, Informative)

          by silentcoder ( 1241496 ) on Friday January 13, 2017 @10:43AM (#53660575)

          That's exactly what DID happen when the EU banned Neonics a year or two ago. Bayer has been on a massive add-campaign ever since to try to get the ban lifted by claiming their pesticides are totally harmless to bees, bees actually like the stuff - they thrive when you spray them with it and think of all the job losses if we our massive multinational company has one less product to sell (which somehow didn't stop them from refusing to sell lethal injection meds to the US) etc. etc. etc.

          Eventually they managed to raise enough dust to get the EU Safety Authority to set up a review committee to reconsider the decision. At time of writing the committee's results are not yet in... but I somehow have this idea that a lot of the committee members have been living large of late...

        • Re:Lobbyists (Score:4, Informative)

          by Jfetjunky ( 4359471 ) on Friday January 13, 2017 @12:37PM (#53661225)
          This type of thing already did happen once with DDT. It was a bit of fight, but it did happen. People expressed concern about it for ~10 years or so before it was finally banned. It was pretty strongly connected to population decline in many birds.
          • Same with amiton. OTOH that was one they should have kept, it's one of the few things that'll deal with things like passion vine hoppers, which are almost unkillable with other insecticides.
      • by gymell ( 668626 )
        Not only that, but habitat loss due to agriculture and development. The good news is that as individuals we can do something to help right in our own yards, simply by reducing/eliminating lawns (which is an ecological desert), planting native plants and avoiding the use of chemicals. It's really amazing how the pollinators respond to that. I haven't had any rusty patched bees yet that I've seen in my yard, but have had many other species and hope to see a rusty patched at some point.
      • by plover ( 150551 ) on Friday January 13, 2017 @11:27AM (#53660821) Homepage Journal

        The problem is that neonicotinoids are about as close to an ideal insecticide as we could hope to have. They're effective on a broad spectrum of insects, they don't harm plants, and they're really quite safe around mammals. For example, dinotefuran has an oral and dermal LD50 in rats of > 2000mg/kg, is not known to be carcinogenic, and is not known to be a neurotoxin. It's also essentially non-toxic to birds, fish, and aquatic invertebrates (important because of chemical run-off.) I'm not saying I'd sprinkle it on my breakfast cereal, but I wouldn't get sick from it.

        They just happen to be 50 times as lethal to bees as to any other insect. So even the lowest doses used to control economically damaging pests are still going to kill huge numbers of bees, because the tainted nectar and pollen that comes back with the bees feeds the colonies.

        I really like the stuff for INDOOR control of greenhouse pests. Outdoors, I won't use it.

      • by boskone ( 234014 )

        i agree, but there is a fine balance, as these compounds are the best defense we have against WDOs like carpenter ants. I can attest that they work well in those cases.

        I wonder if much stricter compliance to labeled usage would be helpful?

    • Roundup isn't bad, it's been with us for over 40 years, rapidly breaks down in the environment and has long been out of patent. It may well be a suspected carcinogen but that's nothing that sensible handling procedures can't mitigate.

    • GMO modifed vegatation is poison to Bumblebees. Who creates GMO modifed Vegatation and Fruits too.

  • by Fencepost ( 107992 ) on Friday January 13, 2017 @06:22AM (#53659689) Journal
    Just to note, this is not all bumblebees, it's the Rusty Patched bumblebee that's been put on the endangered list. Other bumble bees are still around, though most other types have also been declining. The range for this particular type is a rough triangle from the Dakotas down to northern Georgia and up to central Maine.

    If you want information including things that you might be able to do take a look at Bumble Bee Watch (http://www.bumblebeewatch.org/ [bumblebeewatch.org]) or the Xerces Society page on bumblebees (http://www.xerces.org/bumblebees/ [xerces.org]). The University of Maine in Farmington has also been tracking the decline of several of the species native to Maine (http://mainebumblebeeatlas.umf.maine.edu/ [maine.edu]), and other state universities may have similar programs going on.

    • I live in North(ish) Georgia, and have bumblebees digging holes in my deck. I try not to kill them since they're a generally decent insect, but sometimes it happens.

      I guess what I have must not be this rusty bee.

      • by gtall ( 79522 )

        Are you sure they are bumblebees? Digging holes is something I'd expect from hornets or wasps.

        In late summer (although not last summer), I get yellow jackets digging holes in my yard. I used to think they were hornets but they are wasps. Anyhow, running over a nest hole with the lawn mower generally unleashes the Horde from Hell and they don't stop stinging until you more or less assicate the area and kill those that came along as you run for your life.

        I found the cure. They like to sleep in in the early mo

        • by Bigbutt ( 65939 )

          Carpenter Bees. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

          I had them burrow into the fascia for my deck when I lived in Virginia. If you sit on the deck, you can hear them chewing away.

          [John]

          • I had them burrow into the fascia for my deck when I lived in Virginia. If you sit on the deck, you can hear them chewing away.

            I caught one boring a whole in my deck. They can chew quite fast. I happened to have a garden spade in my hand, so I chopped it in half while it's head was embedded in the wood. Those are ones you don't want to let go of, or you'll have a massive problem.

        • I get yellow jackets digging holes in my yard. I used to think they were hornets but they are wasps. Anyhow, running over a nest hole with the lawn mower generally unleashes the Horde from Hell and they don't stop stinging until you more or less assicate the area and kill those that came along as you run for your life.

          Those yellow jackets are nasty little bastards. I didn't have any luck with the traditional bee sprays. I spoke to a bee keeper and he recommended the pellet type insecticide that you use to kill ants and grubs and such. That was the only way I could get rid of them. I had three nests in my yard last summer. None of them were where I could directly run over them with a lawn mower, but they stung the hell out of me if I got within 20 feet of the nest. I hadn't been stung by a bee in at least thirty years pri

          • Get them early, they get really aggressive as fall approaches.

            A bucket and 10lbs of dry ice will wipe out a nest. In the evening (just prior to sundown), watching from a distance, note the location of the nest openings.

            In the morning (before dawn) put a block of dry ice on each opening, cover with an upside down bucket, you will asphyxiate the whole nest.

        • My understanding is that there aren't any true hornets in (or at least native to) North America, only wasps that look like somewhat hornetey. That said, I absolutely despise yellow jackets. They messed me up good when I was a kid (never did shake the phobia), and I hate them and want them all to die horribly.

          I usually hit the entrance(s) to the nest with wasp killer (usually dusk, dawn is too early), give it a day or so to work, and then jam a garden hose in the hole and turn on the faucet for a bit.

      • I live in North(ish) Georgia, and have bumblebees digging holes in my deck.

        Those are carpenter bees and not bumble bees. The males don't even have a stinger. Only the females do.

    • Just to note, this is not all bumblebees, it's the Rusty Patched bumblebee that's been put on the endangered list.

      Libertarians will simply claim that this is the Free Market at work.

      Obviously no one wanted those dang Rusty Patched bumblebees and so they're dying off. They just weren't popular enough or couldn't get their message out or whatever.

    • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

      Has it been determined if this is actually a species, or just localized markings like with the so-called spotted owl?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    thanks Monsanto !

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...errr pollen.

  • that my deck isn't full of holes they dug into the wood.
    • Carpenter bees bore into wood. Bumblebees are typically ground dwelling and dig holes in soft soil.

      • Is it my fault they looks so much alike? No, it's theirs. Stupid lazy bees can't be bothered to look different...
  • So if I swat a bumblebee I could go to jail, and lose my right to a gun and to vote?
    • by dwillden ( 521345 ) on Friday January 13, 2017 @09:23AM (#53660157) Homepage
      Even worse, when a Federal Agent overhears your kid singing about brining home a baby bumble bee at preschool and throws him or her into jail.
    • Sure you'll go to jail and probably lose your right to vote if you swat at a bee now, but the big thing is you better hope it's not at your house. If an endangered species decides to visit your property, your house becomes property of the bee. You lose all rights to use your property as you need to, because rust bubble bees are far more important than people. Of course that doesn't excuse you from paying the mortgage - you still owe the bank. The EPA isn't going to pay off your mortgage for you, theyv jus

      • by mark-t ( 151149 )
        You exaggerate. My wife used to work for a company that was affected by this once, and it's nowhere near as bad as you say.
        • How bad is it then? Do tell.
          • by mark-t ( 151149 )

            Ideally, the creatures' presence does not impact you, and you do not affect them, so you can both go about your business as usual. If this is not feasible, then you must relocate them without harming them. There are companies that specialize in this kind of thing, and the place that my wife worked for contracted such a company for their purposes. After the creatures have been evacuated, you are generally permitted to use any passive measures you desire to discourage reincursion. You are categorically *NOT

    • by djinn6 ( 1868030 )
      A bumblebee colony is a super organism. Any single worker bee is expendable. I think you can argue you didn't really harm them unless you damaged the beehive, which is what is necessary for them to continue to reproduce.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Now when a landowner (farmer) sees any natural beehive they will destroy it quietly and remove all evidence it was there. There is enough history to know that once an endangered species appears on your land it effectively is not your land any more. Nobody is going to take the chance that they now have to grow bee food.
    Nobody admits to this of course but SSS applies here in full.

    If the EPA is worried about this species of bees not surviving, seed them on every piece of public land in their natural habitat.

  • the Decepticons. They're bringing the Age of Extinction!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    A Buzzworthy story.

  • ... if one gets splatted on your windshield while driving?
  • Why can't the mosquito or Lyme disease tick be endangered?

    • Because mosquitos and ticks are admired by Monsanto.

      • Because mosquitos and ticks are admired by Monsanto.

        Unsurprising that the sociopath executives running the joint admire themselves

    • I am guessing they could be, actually. It is just that the thing that makes these animals "bad" is their quantity.

    • A great question indeed. As a biologist, this would be my guess. Non-parasitic organisms are usually quite specific in their needs, i.e. in terms of what they eat, and habitat needs. Like an honest employee or a businessman would need a civilized society and infrastructure to survive and thrive. On the other hand, animal parasites (e.g. mosquitoes and ticks) are like thieves. They are non-specific and get away easily.

  • Oh, no ! First 'Optimus Prime' dies, and now this ?
  • by caseih ( 160668 ) on Friday January 13, 2017 @12:58PM (#53661361)

    Bumble bees disappearing is alarming, and it could have a number of causes but no one is quite yet sure exactly what is the main cause or if several causes are combining (likely). I've been to several research presentations lately from scientists researching bee health and bee loss. They know that neonics kill bees (they kill lots of insects). But the thing you have to realize is that very few farmers apply neonics as a spray where it kills indiscriminately. Almost all neonic use is in seed treatments that go underground and make the plants toxic to insects that would eat them. Also, bees (but not bumblebees) are doing quite well in areas that have high use of neonic seed treatments, like Alberta.

    In other areas the situation is not nearly as good for many bee species. And neonics are suspected to play a role, though neonics are usually not sprayed. What it could be is vacuum planters planting corn and beans are blowing neonic-laced dust into the air which is causing the damage. In Alberta, planting is largely done with air seeders which blow dust into the soil, not the air, where bees are not exposed nearly as much to it.

    So things aren't as simple as the comments so far want to make it. Banning of neonic spray does make some sense. But if they were banned outright, to save the food crops farmers will have to spray more insecticides on the plants during the early growth stages, which is ultimately more harmful to everyone. Not only does that kill problem insects, it kills bumble bees and beneficials indiscriminately.

    One final comment on habitat loss. This indeed could be contributing. As far as farmland goes, though, very little land is being converted from wild to farming in North America these days. Nearly all habitat loss comes from urban development. So don't go blaming farmers for habitat loss in that regard. As well, the US and Canada has quite large wilderness areas that have never been touched by agriculture, and bumble bees seem to be in decline everywhere. And it could be that climate change is playing as big a role as neonics ever did in this decline.

    It's a complicated story. Likely humans play a major role, but how to fix this no on really knows.

  • Don't worry, this is just the start of the coming unstoppable cascade of ecosystem collapses that will lead to worse and worse effects, including overall destruction of the food supply.

    The interlocking domino-effect of multiple large-scale environmental system failures will quickly kill off most plant and animal species, including those in the ocean habitats. It'll happen faster than you think.

    Once the tipping point is reached the entire ecosystem will crash- interdependent flora and fauna will die off, mos

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