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Usfw places bumblebee on endangered list....

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We are seeing fewer bees buzzing around plants and flowers these days. Not just because it's cold, but because of an alarming decline in the bee population. The number of one bee species in particular is plummeting.

"We made observations about the decline, but we needed proof," said Research Scientist, Elaine Evans at the University of Minnesota's Bee Lab.

Evans has been studying the Rusty Patched Bumblebee for years.

"The evidence was clear enough that they could see that this is important and we do need to take action now, to do what we can while they're still here," says Evans.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently placed the Rusty Patched Bumblebee on the endangered species list, making it the first bee to get the designation in the continental United States.

"The whole ecosystem is really dependent on what's happening to with these bees," said Evans.

Back in the 1990's, the bees were found in 28 states, Washington D.C. and two provinces. These days you'll only find them in 13 states and one province.

"The pollinators are very important to us in our ecology, in the environment, and honey bees, bumblebees, monarch butterflies, wasps, they're all important," said Sister Alice Thraen who keeps bees at Assisi Heights.  

"It's about 90% of flowering plants that are dependent on animals for pollinating and bees are the biggest group of animals that are pollinating," said Evans.

The Rusty Patched Bumblebees are not the only bees that are in trouble, though.

"The hope is that with this listing, the kind of habitat improvement that we'll be able to do, the kind of awareness will help these other bees, too," says Evans.

The endangered species categorization for the the Rusty Patched Bumblebee will officially take effect February 10, 2017.  

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