Lawsuit launched to protect Minnesota’s endangered rusty patched bumble bee

Image of rusty patched bumble bee on flower.

(Center for Biological Diversity) The Center for Biological Diversity filed a formal notice today of its intent to sue the city of Minnetonka, Minnesota, for failing to protect endangered rusty patched bumble bees from a planned mountain-bike course in Lone Lake Park, home to one of the largest populations of the bee in the state. “The Endangered Species Act is 99% effective at protecting our most imperiled wildlife, but it can only work when its mandates are followed.”

Rusty patched bumble bee found at Iowa nature center

The actual image of the rusty patched bumble bee taken by Amy Loving.

(Quad-City Times) Amy Loving was working at Davenport’s Nahant Marsh Education Center, taking photos of bees and other insects buzzing around the building in preparation for an upcoming program. Spotting a bee in some white clover, she crouched down to get a shot. Back inside the center some time later, she was scrolling through her images when suddenly she felt her heart begin to race. One of her pictures showed a bee with a rusty patch in its yellow backside.

Thousands of homeowners apply for Minnesota funding to turn lawns into bee-friendly habitats

Image of bumble bee approaching flower.

(Star Tribune) The state’s Board of Water and Soil Resources will select the first 500 or so homeowners this week to receive funding under the trial program, which will pay residents up to $350 to plant pollinator gardens or convert their traditional grass lawns to more bee-friendly yards. Interest has been high enough that the state will keep accepting applications online until early June. “We knew there were going to be a lot of applications for this, but we didn’t know we were going to get close to 6,000 of them in just this first round.”

A new method for surveying bumble bees alongside Minnesota roadways

Image of road worker collecting bees.

(Crossroads) Entomologists working in collaboration with the Minnesota Department of Transportation have produced a rigorous method for characterizing bumble bee populations and distribution in roadside environments. Their results indicate that roadside greenways offer potential to support a species-rich community of foraging bumble bees – including the rusty-patched bumble bee.

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.