TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — For the first time, federal regulators are designating a bee species in the continental United States as endangered.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service tells The Associated Press the rusty patched bumblebee is on the verge of extinction.
The bee once was common in the East and Upper Midwest but its numbers have fallen sharply since the late 1990s. Only scattered populations remain in 13 states and one Canadian province.
The rusty patched is among many types of bees that are in decline around the world. Scientists say causes for the population drop may include diseases, pesticide exposure, habitat loss and climate change.
Bumblebees provide a service worth billions of dollars a year by pollinating wildflowers and a variety of fruit and vegetable crops.