MILWAUKEE — An endangered bumble bee has been spotted at the Milwaukee County Zoo!
During the annual Backyard Bumble Bee Count, one volunteer came across a rusty patched bumble bee pollinating a flower. The bee was photographed and documented, as it is protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
According to a news release from the Zoological Society of Milwaukee, the rusty patched bumble bee's population has declined by 87% in the past 20 years. They're critically important to our society as pollinators for some major crops including cranberries, blueberries, apples, and plums.
This bumble bee species is the only bumble bee protected under the Endangered Species Act and is named after its rust-colored band that runs across its abdomen.
In an effort to protect these bees and help stop their population from declining, the zoo society is asking people to plant native, pollinator-friendly plants and participate in No Mow May, which asks people not to mow their lawns until after May.
"Queen bumble bees hibernate in our yards in the winter, and if we clear our yards too early we may be eliminating these important pollinators," a news release from the zoo society states.
The event the bee was spotted at, the Backyard Bumble Bee Count, ended on Aug. 1 and encourages people to look for bees, take a photo, and submit them to iNaturalist. This year, a group of volunteers was led by UW-Madison graduate student Emily Sneed.