Bumblebee
(Photo credit: USFWS / Wikimedia)

As you plant your garden this spring, you may want to consider ways to support bumblebees.

Sarah Foltz Jordan is senior pollinator conservation specialist at the Xerces Society. She calls bumblebees the teddy bears of the bee world. They’re “cute, fuzzy, and big enough that you can recognize them,” she says.

But she says they face many threats, including habitat loss, disease, pesticides, and climate change.

“Bumblebees are kind of a northern, cold-loving group of insects, so their diversity actually increases with latitude, which is unusual,” she says.

Rising temperatures can stress the bee. And erratic spring weather may prompt them to emerge when the flowers they depend on are not in bloom.

In 2017, the rusty patched bumblebee became the first bumblebee to be listed as endangered in the U.S. Once common in the Northeast and Midwest, its populations have declined by about 90%.

But Jordan says gardeners in those regions can help by simply planting native flowers, trying to make sure they have flowers blooming from spring through fall because the bee is active that whole time, and protecting that habitat from pesticides.

“This is an endangered species that we’re dealing with that we – everyday people – have the opportunity to do something meaningful for,” Jordan says.

And that’s the bee’s knees.

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Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.

Topics: Species & Ecosystems