The dramatic decline of bumblebees

Oct 14, 2021



The rare Franklin's bumblebee nectaring on Lupine flower
Credit Brendan White / USFWS

The Franklin’s Bumblebee was recently listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. The bee, which hasn’t been seen since 2006, is found only in small areas of Southern Oregon and Northern California. It has what is believed to be the most limited distribution of any North American bumblebee species. 

Jeff Everrett is a scientist at the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Portland, OR. He explained why this bumblebee may be facing extinction.   

“The root cause for the bumblebee decline could be attributed to introduced pathogens. When you think about bumblebees doing what they're designed to do, they visit hundreds if not 1000s of flowers. That's a really efficient way to spread disease. ”

The Western Bumblebee, which is native to Utah and once widely abundant across the west, is facing the same dramatic decline as Franklin’s Bumblebee.

“They face the same kind of threats and physiologically or ecologically they respond to those threats in the same ways.” 

Evertt offers one piece of advice for Utahns to help queen Western Bumblebees hibernate over the winter. 

“There is a lot that everyone can do for bumblebees.  We can provide high quality habitat for the emergent queens who are coming out of hibernation hungry in the spring.  and then leaving leaf litter on the ground, just enough to protect them from direct exposure and ride out the winter” 

With Utah Public Radio, I’m Colleen Meidt