The Plight of the Bumblebee

With all the focus on the disappearance of the honeybee, there has been little discussion about the plight of the bumblebee, one of the hardest workers in the wild world of agriculture, despite this warning issued by the National Academy of Sciences October 2006.

That focus may now change as word comes from scientists that at least one bumblebee species from the Northwestern region of the United States, Franklin's Bumblebee,
may have gone extinct.
This is a serious development. Not only because the loss of any species due to human activity is, in this writer's opinion, unconscionable, but because we depend on this species more than we've taken the time to understand.
According to this newly released National Academy of Sciences report, the bumblebee is one of many pollinators losing their battle to survive because of 'habitat lost to housing developments and intensive agriculture, pesticides, pollution and diseases spilling out of greenhouses using commercial bumblebee hives.'
Long-term trends for several wild bee species -- especially bumblebees -- as well as some butterflies, bats, and hummingbirds also show population drops, the committee found. -snip-

Like the honeybee, the bumblebee has been hurt by the introduction of a non-native parasite. Many pollinator declines are associated with habitat loss...
It turns out that our native American bumblebee (the honeybee was imported) does more than provide a pleasant bass note to the summer hum we hear outside our window...