Bee (Photograph: USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab via Flickr CC)
Bees Are Endangered – And Our Entire Food Chain Could Be Doomed
Bees are important-as-hell. These winged-critters help produce and pollinate over a third of the food we and our wildlife eat – from fruits and vegetables to tea, nuts and coffee.
But these guardians of the food chain however face threats from warming climates and out-of-town predators, and as a result more and more bees are dying-out.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service have now placed seven species of Hawaiian yellow-face bees on the endangered species list – the first time any bee has received such a classification.
These six-millimetre-long bees are native to Hawaii and are considered the primary pollinator for the state's most iconic beach shrub, naupaka.
Their populations have been falling for a number of years due to the destruction of their habitats and intrusion from non-native animals and plants.
The bees are however integral to the Hawaiian ecosystem and are "critical for maintaining the health of plants and other animals across the islands," explains Gregory Koob from the FWS in Honolulu.
As with others placed on the endangered species list the yellow-faced bee will now receive additional protection from the federal government.
Conservationists have also stepped-up their efforts to protect bees from human harassment.
Hawaiian entomologist Jason Graham has even developed artificial nests that house the last of these rare bees while keeping out ants and other predators.
He hopes the wooden nests with bee-sized holes can be used to reestablish bee populations.
The boxes "may bring these bees back from the verge of extinction," he tells National Geographic.
By Matthew Kirby, published on 04/10/2016