Why is the Bumblebee now an Endangered Species?

February 06, 2017

Why is the Bumblebee now an Endangered Species?

Some of us despise them, but the world’s ecosystem desperately needs them. Humans have been shocked to recently learn that a type of insect is actually endangered. It is easy for us to imagine insect populations being endless, but perhaps now we can start to realize how precious life really is. Due to an array of reasons, the bumblebee is now officially listed as endangered. To help lift the bumble bee endangered species from a near-grave, we have compiled reasons why it is endangered so that we can continue thinking of ways to fix this problem.


Disease

One of the reasons the bumblebee has become endangered is because their cousin, the honeybee, is actually spreading disease to bumblebees. Deformed Wing Virus (DWV) and Nosema ceranae, are two viruses known to typically infect the honeybee, but they are now also affecting the bumblebee.

It is not uncommon for pathogens like this to spread across into other species, but sadly for the bumblebee, this is just one of the various problems that are threatening its existence. Thankfully, we are able to point out problems like this so that we can continue coming up with solutions to the declining bumblebee population.

Part of this problem is that humans use honeybees commercially for pollination of crops and for honey production, but these bees also pass on viruses to wild bumblebees. If we are only able to harness the natural power of the bee through the honeybee, we will lose the natural pollination provided by the wild bumblebees in land areas left essentially untouched by humans.

Pesticides

This is where humans really come into play. It is understandable that we want to use pesticides to keep our crops and homes bug-free, but when our actions start to negatively impact an entire race of organisms, we should reconsider our actions.

Two chemicals in particular are disproportionately dangerous to bumblebees. These two chemicals, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam, are also two of the most widely used insecticides in the world. The problem with these two chemicals is that they not only threaten an individual bumblebee, but the entire hive.

Habitat Loss

Another big reason that the bumblebees are starting to decline is that their habitats are also starting to decline. Scientists estimate that this could be due to both human activity and global climate change.

Humans have been aggressive to bumblebees throughout the years, which has been a main actor in their eventual addition to the endangered species list. We need to keep in mind that bumblebees are not necessarily pests, and that they help keep the Earth’s ecosystem in balance, so we should be resistant to killing them.

Habitat loss of the bumblebee has also been attributed to global climate change, which could play a fairly large role in the decline of the bumblebee population. To counter this change, humans could be chipping in to support sanctuaries for the bumblebee.


Climate Change

Bumblebees initially evolved in a relatively cool climate, and simply cannot handle large amounts of heat like humans and other animals can. Species like the butterfly, for example, can naturally thrive in more tropical climates, but bumblebees tend to enjoy the slightly cooler climates that have historically been in the Northern hemisphere. However, there are also subspecies of bumblebees that survive in the tropical climates of South America

Since bumblebees play a critical role in the pollination of plants, scientists have warned that we should be doing everything we can to ensure that bumblebees thrive in the places they are historically most successful, otherwise we could force them into a position of evolution they simply aren’t ready for yet. If we force the bumblebee to live in tropical regions, we will lose a significant amount of natural pollination in regions where they were most active previously, eventually affecting the entire Earth ecosystem.

If we are proactive today, we can start to reverse these problems before they lead to the extinction of the bumblebee. If every person pitches in to leave a more positive impact on our environment, we can not only save the bumblebee, but our entire planet as well.


A Combination of All Factors: What Can YOU do?

Perhaps what is most haunting about the decline in the bumblebee population is that all the factors described above are working harmoniously together to decimate bumblebee populations. Thankfully, people are starting to take notice on a larger scale and are starting projects to benefit the future of the bumblebee endangered species.

For example, Morgan Freeman has recently added a 26 hive bee sanctuary to his 124-acre ranch in Mississippi. There is also this company called Endangered Apparel which works to build animal sanctuaries for endangered species like the bumblebee. If you want to be an agent for change, supporting a company like this is an excellent place to start.