Local Bees Not Endangered

Here’s a good example of how headlines don’t tell the entire story, and can in fact, give a totally wrong impression.

Last week, headlines trumpeted: “Bees put on endangered species list.” That is all of the story that most people read. I have had customers tell me with horror in their voices, “Bees are endangered.” Well, not exactly. Here is the actual story:

Seven Bee Species Added to Endangered Species List

On September 30, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service added seven species of yellow-faced bees to the U.S. Endangered Species List. These are the first bees species to be listed as endangered in the U.S.

Here are a few important facts to put it in context.

The bees: are all native to Hawaii. Hawaii has 63 known native bee species. Worldwide, there are 20,000+ known bee species.

Why the bees were listed: USFWS cites several reasons: habitat destruction (through both urbanization and ungulate grazing), non-native plant species, wildfires, storms, drought and non-native predators such as ants. They indicate that climate change and disease may also impact the populations. However, the 79 pages of explanation published in the federal
did not mention pesticides.

Plants also listed: In total, the USFWS listed 49 species from the Hawaiian Islands as endangered in this announcement. That included 10 animal species and 39 plant species. No doubt, there’s a possible link between those dwindling numbers of 39 plants species and the seven bees species in decline.

One important take-away — pesticides were not listed as a factor in placing these limited numbers of bees from the islands of Hawaii on the endangered list.

So don’t jump to conclusions. Bees in most of the country are actually making a good rebound from the declines shown several years ago, and with most people planting native plants, their circumstances should be improving.