Seven types of bees once found in abundance in Hawaii, but now facing extinction, have become the first bees to be added to the United States’ list of endangered and threatened species. The listing decision, published in the Federal Register, classifies seven varieties of yellow-faced or masked bees as endangered, due to such factors as habitat loss, wildfires and the invasion of non-native plants and insects. The bees, so named for yellow-to-white facial markings, once crowded Hawaii and Maui, but recent surveys found their populations had plunged in the same fashion as other types of wild bees and some commercial ones elsewhere in the US. Pollinators like bees are crucial for the production of fruits, nuts and vegetables and they represent billions of dollars in value each year to the nation’s agricultural economy, US officials said. Placing yellow-faced bees under federal safeguards comes just over a week since the US Fish and Wildlife Service proposed adding the imperiled rusty patched bumble bee, a prized but vanishing pollinator once found in the upper Mid-west and north-eastern United States, to the endangered and threatened species list. One of several wild bee species seen declining over the past two decades, the rusty patched bumble bee is the first in the continental US formally proposed for protections.
ABC News, 1 October 2016 ;http://www.abc.net.au/news/ ;