Busy bee

The endangered rusty patched bumble bee was once widespread, but can no longer be found in Pennsylvania. Its population has declined by 87 percent in the last 20 years.

In July, Penn State held the second Pollinator In-Service meeting in State College. I was able to attend this meeting along with two other master gardeners from Adams County. Margarita López-Uribe, Assistant Professor of Entomology in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, organized and hosted the two-day meeting that brought more than 100 extension staff and master gardeners from across the State of Pennsylvania up to speed on the status of bees, our most important pollinators.

The news was not good. Beekeepers are reporting that more than 50 percent of their honey bee colonies are dying each year. Native bee populations are disappearing and are in decline, perhaps by as much as 30-60 percent worldwide. About one-quarter of the 46 bumble bee species found in North America are facing extinction risks. Much less is known about the status of other native bees that represent the majority of the more than 400 species in Pennsylvania. Key challenges confronting all bees include loss of habitat, use of chemicals, climate change, invasive species, parasites, and disease.

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