The Rusty Patched Bumble Bee is a federally endangered species that needs your help! Bumble Bees are considered keystone species because they play a critical role in the ecosystem: they are pollinators, necessary not only for native wildflower reproduction, but also for creating seeds and fruits that feed wildlife as diverse as songbirds and grizzly bears. If the bees are lost then the effects would be felt all the way through the food chain.
The Rusty Patched Bumble is the first Bumble Bee species to emerge in the Spring and the last species to go into hibernation in the Fall. Thus, the species is active from April - September. Because this species emerges so early, they generally inhabit woodlands and woodland edges so that they have a constant supply of nectar from the early woodland wildflowers such as Dutchman’s Breeches and Wild Columbine.
The first step in the conservation of a species is to know where it exists. This species is threatened by many factors including habitat loss and degradation, disease, pesticides, and climate change, but at the present, the most important action we can take for the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee is to simply find it. This species hasn’t been seen in the Southern Appalachians for a very long time, but we’re not ready to write it off yet. With your help we will re-discover this species in our area leading to protection of its critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act. That is why Wild South is calling on you to help us find them once again! Search your yards, the trails you hike, and the greenways you walk and contribute to scientific discovery!
This citizen science project is calling on all of you hikers and wildflower hunters out there to take up the cause and photograph all of the Bumble Bees you come across. We know there are a lot of lenses out there in the world constantly photographing the natural world. Let’s put those lenses to good use and work together to help save rare Bumble Bee species from extinction!
While our ultimate goal is to find a population of Rusty Patched Bumble Bees in the Southern Appalachian Mountains, there are many more Bumble Bee species that are in decline. So, for this project we are asking you to add any bumble bee observations you can gather within our project area on iNaturalist. You can use a jar to capture and photograph the Bumble Bees or just get pictures on the flower, either way is great! For more information and for protocols, identification tips, and access to the iNaturalist project contact firstname.lastname@example.org.