For the first time ever, bees have made their way onto the endangered species list. Following several years of analysis, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has placed not one, but seven species of Hawaiian yellow-faced bees on the list.
In a joint effort with an invertebrate species advocacy organization known as the Xerces Society and Hawaiian state officials, the FWS studied the status of the bees. Just 10 years ago, in 1996, the FWS placed 33 different bee species on their "species of concern" watch list.
The Xerces Society has reported on their website that the following seven types of bees are now defined as being endangered species: Hylaeus anthracinus, Hylaeus longiceps, Hylaeus assimulans, Hylaeus facilis, Hylaeus hilaris, Hylaeus kuakea and Hylaeus mana.
These bees are all native to Hawaii, and their populations have been suffering for years, thanks to the invasion of non-native plants and animals. The destruction of their habitat to make way for skyscrapers and other forms of urbanization has also been problematic for bees, as it has for other creatures. Bees, however, are particularly valuable to humans, because we rely on them to pollinate our plants and gardens.
According to conservation and restoration team manager, Gregory Koob, of the Fish and Wildlife Service in Honolulu, these bees are an essential part of the Hawaiian ecosystem due to their role as pollinators, and they are "critical for maintaining the health of plants and other animals across the islands."
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