clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Lost bumblebee species returning to northwest coast

New, 19 comments
Bumblebee (USDA)
Bumblebee (USDA)

A species of bumblebee is returning to some areas after over ten years of absence. Numbers of Bombus occidentalis, more commonly known as the western bumblebee, fell dramatically in the nineties, totally disappearing in parts of Washington State. The western bumblebee is one of several species to see a massive population decline, while even the more hardy honey bee — partially protected by our desire for the honey they produce — is in trouble.

The resurgence of the species was first hinted at least year, when an insect enthusiast discovered one of the bumblebees in west Washington state — the first in over a decade. This year, freelance writer-photographer Will Peterman captured photos of the bee in a park, and returned with a group of entomologists from the University of Washington to search for more of the insects.

Peterson tells Reuters the mood among the group was "almost giddy," adding "this is grounds for optimism in a story that has been really bleak." Although they were unable to find a nest, they did spot several queen bees in the area. The queens should go into hibernation soon before producing offspring next year, hopefully repopulating the area further. While the cause of the resurgence isn't known, biologists hope that, with conservation work, the bumblebee could repopulate its old range further.