Minnesota’s goal is to provide food sources for a variety of pollinators; however, more specifically aimed at saving the rusty patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis), which is on the brink of extinction.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, the rusty patched bumble bee used to be a common sight. This bumble bee was so ordinary that it went almost unnoticed as it flew from flower to flower, gathering nectar and pollen.
Unfortunately, it is now balancing on the brink of extinction. It has become the first-ever bumble bee in the United States to be declared endangered.
There are over 3,000 species of bees in the United States, and roughly 40 of them belong to the genus Bombus.
The rusty patched bumble bee is vital to the ecosystem. They pollinate many plants, including valuable economic crops such as cranberries, tomatoes, and peppers, just like other bees. Bumble bees are excellent pollinators. The plants produce better, bigger, and more fruit when bumble bees pollinate it.
In Minnesota, officials have prepared a plan to help reinforce the species population. The state wants to pay residents to turn their lawns into bumble bee havens.
Pollinators are small, yet they play an essential part in the natural mechanism that sustains our world. Without them, parks, meadows, shrubland, and forests could not survive.
A major threat to all the bees and bumble bees is habitat loss. Most of the prairies and grasslands have converted to developed areas or monoculture farms where they used to roam. Pesticides are another problem for the bees.
USFWS explained that bumble bees could absorb toxins through their exoskeleton through contaminated pollen and nectar. The rusty patched bumble bees nest in the ground and, therefore, may be susceptible to pesticides.
Experts have been encouraging homeowners to leave their grasses untreated and to enrich lawns with flowering plants, to create a safe and diverse habitat for bees. Let your lawn grow a little longer, as that will help as well.
The lawn conversion plan will help other species, which in turn will help humans. Roughly one-third of everything you eat is due to a pollinator pollinating that plant.
Citizens living in rusty patch bumblebee zones are eligible for the grant where the state’s board of water and soil resources reimburses homeowners for planting bee-friendly plants, like creeping thyme, self-heal and dutch white clover.
What would happen if bees went extinct?
Bees are dwindling at an alarming rate, it can boil down to the change in climate, pesticides, loss of flower meadows, and many more reasons.
It could be possible that we are losing all the plants that bees pollinate.
Should bees become extinct, it would upset the ecosystem and the food chain. It would mean the world could struggle to sustain the global human population, and we would have half the amount of veggies and fruit.
How to apply: Apply online at Blue Thumb’s website.
More info on the rusty patched bumble bee: https://www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered/insects/rpbb/factsheetrpbb.html
Feature image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwsmidwest/28971822177/