Have you heard that bees are dying? Maybe you have heard of colony collapse disorder. With over 20,000 different kinds of bees in the world, these is often confusion about what bees are in decline, which species are in need of conservation, and what are the causes of decline. Many may wonder what is the importance of each of these species. The first bee species to be federally listed as an endangered species in the continental U.S. is the rusty patched bumble bee. This bumble bee species was once commonly found throughout the eastern U.S. and is now rarely found in a handful of areas, one of which is the Twin Cities Metro. Learn about this imperiled bee species, why it is at risk, the importance of preserving rusty patched bumble bees, and what you can do to help.
Elaine Evans is a University of Minnesota Extension Educator and Bee Researcher working on pollinator education and research relating to bee conservation. She completed her M.S. and Ph.D. in Entomology at the University of Minnesota where she studied bee diversity in agricultural areas in the Great Plains, competition between honey bees and bumble bees, as well as tomato and cranberry pollination and bumble bee rearing. She has authored several books: “Befriending Bumble Bees: A Guide to Raising Local Bumble Bees” and “Managing Alternative Pollinators”. Elaine was a conservation consultant for the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, studying declining North American bumble bee populations. After seeing the need for surveys focused on declining bumble bees, she founded the Minnesota Bumble Bee Survey in 2007, using volunteers to help survey bumble bees in the Twin Cities area. In 2016, this survey was expanded state-wide through efforts with the U of MN Minnesota Bee Atlas program. She serves as a member of the Bumble Bee Specialists Group for the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Her current work focuses on determining the status of bees in MN, monitoring threatened populations of the rusty-patched bumble bee, and enacting pollinator conservation through research, education, outreach, and citizen-science.