Rusty Patched Bumble Bees Need Our Help

Rusty Patched Bumble Bees Need Our Help

© Christy Stewart 2012

Rusty patched bumble bees are endangered

One year ago, the rusty patched bumble bee was listed as endangered — the first bumble bee to be listed in the Continental United States under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

These bees have lost 87 percent of their population over the last 20 years.1 Among the causes? The widespread use of bee-killing pesticides.

Rusty patched bumble bees are pollinators with an important job: they contribute to our food security and the functioning of our entire ecosystem. Not only are they key to maintaining our ecosystems, but their economic value is estimated at $3 billion per year in the U.S.2

But these bees are endangered — they’ve seen an incredibly steep decline in their population over the last 20 years.

Bee-killing pesticides play a role in their decline

From global climate change to intensive farming practices to habitat loss — there are many factors contributing to the endangerment of this species. Scientists have also pointed to the increased use of neonicotinoid pesticides, which are highly toxic to bumble bees and all other types of bees, as a major contributing factor to bee die-offs.3

It’s absurd to risk the future of the rusty patched bumble bees, and all bees, just to spray more of a pesticide — especially when there are viable alternatives.

Doing our part to protect rusty patched bumble bees

There is something truly amazing about watching a bumble bee at work: from their flight through the sky, searching for a colorful and vibrant flower, and eventually nestling on the plant. And the fruits of their labor make the world a more beautiful place: from foods we love like blueberries to brilliant wildflowers across the country. Rusty patched bumble bees are an important part of our ecosystems. 

We can all do our part to keep the rusty patched bumble bees around by advocating for a ban on bee-killing pesticides in your state.

We’re asking governors across the country to ban neonicotinoids — for our food supply, for our colorful flowers and dynamic ecosystems, and to keep these unique bees around into the future. Maryland and New Jersey have both taken legislative action to curb the use of these bee-killing pesticides.4,5

Now, you can take action by advocating for your governor to ban bee-killing pesticides in your state. 


  1. Endangered Species: Rusty Patched Bumble Bee (Bombus affinis),” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, January 8, 2018.
  2. Fact Sheet: Rusty Patched Bumble Bee (Bombus affinis),” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, January 10, 2017.
  3. Jennifer Hopwood, Aimee Code, Mace Vaughan, David Biddinger, Matthew Shepherd, Scott Hoffman Black, Eric Lee-Mäder and Celeste Mazzacano, “How Neonicotinoids Can Kill Bees: The Science Behind The Role These Insecticides Play in Harming Bees,” Xerces Society For Invertebrate Conservation, 2016.
  4. Kathy Lundy Springuel, “Maryland Is First State To Ban Neonicotinoids,” Bloomberg BNA, Mary 31, 2016.
  5. Michelle Brunetti Post, “Bills To Protect Bees From Pesticides Become Law,” The Press of Atlantic City, January 16, 2018.