Biologists near Timberline Lodge found a dozen rare Western Bumblebees, the Oregon Zoo reported. For the last 15 years, the bee’s population has plummeted and no one really knows why. The inch-long, white-bottomed bee was one of the most common pollinators in the West, then they mysteriously disappeared west of the Cascades.
The Western Bumblebee is one of five once-common bumblebees with a plummeting population in recent years, the Oregon Zoo reported. The declines are part of a global bee crisis that threatens food production. Scientists attribute bumblebee declines to a variety of factors, but introduced pathogens are the leading hypothesis for Western Bumblebee decline and pesticides were to blame for killing 50,000 bumblebees in Wilsonville, Ore., in June. Other threats to the bees are habitat loss and climate change.
“Pollinators are critically important to the function of many ecosystems,” Oregon Zoo deputy conservation manager David Stepherdson said. “They provide the seeds and berries that feed our songbirds and mammals. Protecting pollinators helps to protect all wildlife.”