DNR on lookout for endangered bumble bee in Minnesota

Rusty-patched bumble bee. Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. 

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources are on the lookout for the increasingly rare rusty-patched bumble bee to learn more why the species is declining and how to reverse it.

Earlier this year, the rusty-patched bumble bee was the first bumble bee to be placed on the federal endangered species list.

Before the 1990s, it was commonly found in 28 states across the Midwest and New England, as well as Quebec, Ontario, Canada and Washington, D.C. These days, it is thought to exist only in 13 states and Ontario – about 10 percent of its historic range.

Minnesota could be “a sort of last stronghold” for the rusty-patched bumble bee because of the state’s mix of habitat types, the DNR said in a news release. By surveying for the bumble bee, researchers are hoping to learn more about their habitat needs and preferences.

If you think you have seen a rusty-patched bumble bee in Minnesota, you can report your sighting to bumblebeewatch.org, a citizen science effort to track and conserve North America’s bumble bees.