Is It the End of Bees?
September 30th marked the first time a bee species was given endangered status by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Merrit Kennedy, Bees Added to U.S. Endangered Species List for 1st Time, (Oct. 3, 2016) available at http://www.npr.org. The yellow-faced bee, native to Hawaii, has been experiencing a decline in population due to threats, such as: habitat destruction because of urbanization or nonnative animals; the introduction of nonnative plant species and nonnative predators; global climate change; and natural events including hurricanes, wildfires, tsunamis, and droughts. Id.
Despite their poor reputation as small insects that sting, bees play a vital role in our global community. Bees are pollinators and are responsible for a large portion of the world’s food supply. According to the United Nations, approximately 40 percent of all the invertebrate pollinator species (which includes bees) are facing extinction. Id. About 75 percent of the world’s crops depend (at least partially) on pollination, so without these animals the global community will face an extreme food shortage. Id.
There is hope that the endangered status will restore the bee population to a healthy level. By classifying the species as endangered it “will allow authorities to implement recovery programs, access funding, and limit their harm from outside sources.” Id. These protections should help to minimize threats causing the decline in population.