Rusty patched bumble bee discovered in Minnesota bluffland area

Image of rusty patched bumble bee on flower.

(StarTribune) The federally endangered bumble bee — a single male of the species — has been discovered at the Pine Bend Bluffs Natural Area in Inver Grove Heights, a positive sign for ecologists who have worked on restoring the area. Just one bee represents approximately 0.2 percent of the species’ known world population. Minnesota hosts the largest population of the bee in the world, with about 35 percent of the species buzzing about in the Twin Cities metro area.

Settlement requires feds to act on critical habitat protections for endangered rusty patched bumble bee

Image of rusty patched bumble bee.

(NRDC) The Natural Resources Defense Council and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service settled a lawsuit over the failure to protect habitat necessary for the recovery of the rusty patched bumble bee, as required under the Endangered Species Act. The settlement will require USFWS to propose “critical habitat” by July 31, 2020, unless it makes a finding that habitat protections are not prudent. The Service must then finalize any habitat protections by July 31, 2021.

This has been a bad week for bees

Image of rusty patch bumble bee.

The Trump administration weakened the Endangered Species Act. Franklin’s bumble bee is being considered for the Endangered Species List – but under the newly-weakened law. And the yellow-banded bumble bee won’t be considered for protection as an endangered or threatened species (despite the fact that it’s now found in only 14 of the 25 states it used to inhabit).

Trump administration weakens protections for endangered species

Image of bald eagle perched on tree.

(New York Times) The Endangered Species Act has been the most essential piece of United States legislation for protecting fish, plants and wildlife, and has acted as a safety net for species on the brink of extinction – including the rusty patched bumble bee. The changes could clear the way for new mining, oil and gas drilling, and development in areas where protected species live. The new rules will make it harder to consider the effects of climate change on wildlife when deciding whether a given species warrants protection. The new rules would also, for the first time, allow economic factors to be taken into account when making determinations.

Rusty patched bumble bee spottings on the rise at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie

Image of bee researcher in prairie.

(The Herald-News) Olivet Nazarene University monitors have been active for three seasons. They spotted two rusty patched bumble bees last year, and their studies year-over-year have provided information about a variety of other species of bumble bees and their life habits. Their data helps measure how the restoration work of Midewin volunteers, partners and staff is helping to bring back habitat for native Illinois prairie species. The ONU report that specifically focuses on the rusty patched bumble bee can be found here.

Proposed pipeline dealt another setback by federal court to protect rusty patched bumble bee

Image of pipeline construction from above.

(CBS19) The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday tossed out a key permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline that deals with the project’s effects on threatened or endangered species – including the rusty patched bumble bee. The court wrote that, in fast-tracking the Biological Opinion in connection to the proposed pipeline, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service “appears to have lost sight of its mandate under the [Endangered Species Act]: ‘to protect and conserve endangered and threatened species and their habitats.'” The full decision by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals can be found here.

Meet the rusty patched bumble bee, Minnesota’s new bee ambassador

Image of rusty patched bumble bee on flower.

(Minnesota Public Radio) Gov. Tim Walz made the state bee designation official when he signed state budget bills into law this week after a contentious legislative session. The designation comes along with a pledge to protect the bee, which in Minnesota is found primarily in and around the Twin Cities. And scientists say regular Minnesotans can help the population recover.