Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

A rusty patched bumblebee visits a flower

2022 (approx.)

Detailed Description

What can you do to conserve the birds and the bees, even in the face of climate change? In some cases, small actions, such as maintaining a pollinator garden or avoiding pesticides can be important. Take the rusty patched bumble bee, once one of the most common pollinators in eastern North America.

In the early 2000s, scientists noted its decline, likely due to an introduced pathogen. In recent years, the rusty patched bumble bee was lost from most of its previous range which stretched from Georgia to Canada to Minnesota, now maintaining small footholds only in the upper Midwest and in Virginia/West Virginia.

But small actions DO matter! Several recent, invaluable observations of this critical pollinator come from citizen scientists like YOU who submit photographs of the bee to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service or to iNaturalist. Many of these observations come from pollinator plantings that people create and maintain.

For example, this bee has been observed at a lot of sites that we would not usually associate with an endangered species: nesting in people's yards in Madison, WI; visiting a pollinator planting at an L stop in Chicago; buzzing around a county park campground near Minneapolis, MN; and living at an organic farm near Decorah, IA. Scientists at the USGS are studying how these small-scale habitat patches and conservation actions add up to major conservation goals, even in the face of what seems impossible. 


Public Domain.