A formal petition has been filed to list a species of bumblebee as officially “endangered.” It’s part of a larger effort to protect bees of all kinds, since they are still suffering a major die-off.
The Franklin’s bumblebee was selected for this petition because there’s more documentation of its decline than for other kind of bee. Robbin Thorp, an entomologist with the Society for Invertebrate Conservation and University of California at Davis,who is leading the petition, notes he has seen none of this kind of bee since 2006.
For the last several years, natural hives as well as commercial hives have been decimated by a mysterious syndrome known as bee colony collapse disorder, where bees leave their hives and never return. Explanations range from a virus to the effects of radiation from cell phone towers. Experts add that any or all suggested causes may be at play since bees have weak immune systems and are already severely stressed by commercial beekeepers trucking their hives around the country to pollinate crops.