Federal protections have been given to seven bee species in the hopes their populations will rebound.
Thanks to the advocacy efforts of environmental groups like the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently announced that a group of Hawaiian yellow-faced bees are the first to officially say aloha to the endangered species list.
The announcement follows a recent proposal to add the rusty-patched bumblebee — found mostly in the Upper Midwest and Northeastern United States — to the list.
Protected status provides special safeguards from the federal government that prevent species from being harmed, hunted, trapped, or collected from the wild and allows authorities to implement recovery programs.
According to the University of Hawaii, the yellow-faced bee is the only bee to reach the Hawaiian Islands on its own. Like many bees, the seven species have been in decline due to a variety of threats like loss of native habitat, wildfires, pesticides, global climate change, and challenges from invasive species.
Here are a few things you can do to “bee” helpful to your local pollinators:
- Buy organic food when you can afford it.
- Reduce and prevent the use of pesticides and herbicides in your yard, neighborhood, and city.
- Foster natural landscapes — remember some bees live in nests in the ground, clumps of grass, or old tree stumps.
- Plant pollinator-friendly and native-to-your-area plants, shrubs, and trees.
- Support conservation efforts of environmental advocacy groups.
- Provide crucial access to fresh water for pollinators by making a simple bee bath.
Photography of Hylaeus bee by Matthew Shepherd of The Xerces Society