Native Bees

Scientists have estimated that globally, 1 in 6 bee species is regionally extinct and more than 40 percent are vulnerable to extinction. [16] In the United States there are about 4,000 native bee species, most of which are solitary bees that nest in the ground or cavities, with many that require just one or a few plant species for sustenance. Unfortunately at least 23 percent of U.S. native bees have declined, with bees in areas with heavy commodity-crop production particularly hard hit due to habitat loss and pesticide use. [11] Other threats to native bees include climate-driven sea-level rise and increased temperatures, loss of host plants, and competition and disease from non-native honeybees.

Bees and the Saving America’s Pollinators Act

Neonicotinoids are a group of neurotoxic pesticides that are systemic, meaning they’re found throughout an entire plant — even its pollen and nectar eaten by bees. [18] These insecticides that not only kill bees outright but also reduce a bee’s ability to fight infections, find and collect food, and produce eggs and sperm. [18] Bees exposed to neonicotinoids become weak and disoriented. They can’t find flowers or their nests and can’t fight off pathogens to stay alive — all while they’re feeding contaminated pollen and nectar to their offspring. Countless studies have shown neonicotinoids harm bees in a variety of ways that reduce their survival. [8]

We're original endorsers of the Saving America’s Pollinators Act, which would follow the lead of the European Union and Canada and ban most uses of neonicotinoids in the United States.

Mojave Poppy Bee

The Center petitioned to list the Mojave poppy bee as an endangered species in October 2018. The tiny Mojave poppy bee is only known from seven sites in and around Nevada’s Lake Mead National Recreation Area. This bee is a poppy specialist, gathering pollen from the rare Las Vegas bear-poppy and the federally endangered dwarf bear-poppy.

The Mojave poppy bee is threatened by gypsum mining, urbanization, off-road vehicles, grazing, and feral honey bees.

Gulf Coast Solitary BeeGulf Coast Solitary Bee

The Center petitioned to list the Gulf Coast solitary bee as an endangered species in March of 2019.Known to live in only six locations — all within 500 meters of the northern Gulf Coast’s shoreline — this dune specialist is under dire threat from urbanization and climate change–driven increases in sea-level rise and storm surges.

The Gulf Coast solitary bee is a member of the oldest family of bees on earth, and is the only member of its subfamily in the eastern United States. It gathers  pollen from just  one plant: the Coastal Plain honeycomb head. Like many native bees, its decline is an alarm bell for the degrading health of its shoreline ecosystem.

Rusty patched bumblebee

Rusty Patched Bumblebee

The rusty patched bumblebee is the only native bee in the continental United States protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Habitat loss largely due to agricultural intensification and urbanization, heavy use of pesticides, and disease have eliminated this fuzzy bee, with a rusty patch on its back, from more than 80 percent of its range in North America.

We’re working to ensure that conservation efforts by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service incorporate the most current science and follow the requirements of the Endangered Species Act to help protect this imperiled bee from continuing threats.

Globe mallow bee (banner photo) by V.J. Tepedino; honeybee photo courtesy Flickr/Rakib Hasan Sumon; rusty-patched bumblebee courtesyFlickr/Dan Mullen