Bumblebee population is declining so fast they could become extinct

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/02/06/bumblebee-population-is-declin.html

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Walking into my public library a couple years ago, a father and son walking in ahead of me, Dad pointing at the one patch of grass and clover in the expanse of concrete and asphalt: “That’s a bumblebee. You used to see those all the time.” True story.



we are so hosed.


Boingboing is just an overflowing font of optimism today, huh?


Wait for the feel-good article about nano-robotic bees.


If you’ve got a garden, even a small one, here’s some resources how to make it better for bumblebees!




Oh FUCK NO, I saw that Black Mirror episode!


Bumblebees, fireflies, monarch butterflies. Or we can just call them canaries in the coal mine.

It’s barely been winter in Baltimore this year. A little brief blast of more traditional cold weather earlier in the winter, and now it’s been mostly a prolonged autumn/early spring kind of thing for months. I’ve been thinking for a few years, one of these winters sometime soon, it’s just not going to turn to winter. And people will kind of just… accept it, know it’s the sign of impending doom, and go on with their lives. Until we can’t just go on with our lives, any more, not in any normal way.

I’m thinking that by the end of this decade, climate change is going to be a lot more in all of our faces, we’ll be dealing with major species die-offs, potentially massive movements of population around the globe, and a whole lotta nasty shit surrounding all of it. Hopefully, we’ll at least be able to get our protein through insect larvae grown by Wallace farms…


Is this talking about European bees we use to pollinate crops? Or is it affecting other populations of bees as well? Many studies and articles are unclear.

Oh yeah, I heard about those! Cute little robo-bees! New collaboration from Palantir, Oculus, Clearview AI, and IARPA!


From my experience as a gardener, bumblebees love butterfly bushes, clover, and tomatillo plants.

My tomatillos are still populated hourly with bumblebees during the growing season. I’m in Western Ma. I haven’t noticed any decline yet, but I do notice a vast difference in the frost thresholds both spring and fall. In the Spring, I have frosts two weeks later, into mid May, than when I started gardening 25 years ago (old fart), and the usual, for me, third week in September frost for 15 + years, has extended to November before any killing frost.

Lots more heavy thunderstorms too, anecdotally that is.


Thanks for the links. Solitary bees are also valuable pollinators that are declining. We’ve put up bee hotels, but the subject is complicated and I’m not sure how much effect we have had so far, especially since they all look like bumblebees to me. :confused:

We’ve tried to plant native wildflowers, and we’ve noticed a significant increase in some insects in the last two or three years. I hadn’t seen many monarch butterflies for some time, but they’ve become common in our yard again. I always associated monarchs with milkweed, but it turns out that it’s the larvae that eat only milkweed, and the adults are important pollinators of many plants.

Echinacea (coneflowers) are popular with monarchs and solitary bees, and both go absolutely nuts for Joe-Pye weed.


FYI if you’re in any of the hotter more arid areas of the USA, you can plant Palo Verde trees. I’ve planted a few, and they get fairly big fairly fast, have a shit-ton of beautiful yellow flowers for much of the year, and the bees go absolutely nuts for them. We get honeybees, bumblebees, carpenter bees, and these weird little non-hive native bees.


Speaking of monarch butterflies, if you’re in America and have a garden, here’s a site with all sorts of useful info for what you can do to help those:



Bumblebees are not honeybees.

Yep, when I was a kid, I use to see honey bees, bumble bees, wasps, and other insects but today they’re all scarce to one degree or another. I haven’t seen a firefly since maybe 1993-4? That should’ve been the big warning to be honest. Heck, I haven’t been greeted with random june bugs in my sink since the 80s and this was in Wichita Kansas which isn’t a huge metro area. We have plenty of undeveloped grasslands and wooded areas nearby and in the metro but they just all vanish.


Yours is one of those posts that reminds me how much I wish we had more responses than a “heart” symbol. Depressing, but thank you for the post.


Wasps and carpenter bees seem to be doing fine here in Southern Appalachia. We have a butterfly bush , though, and I’ve never seen a bee on it.

25 years ago, you couldn’t walk barefoot or in flip-flops across a clover patch because they were thick with bees. Now, bees are almost completely absent and a subject for conversation, nearly extinct as are wild bobwhite quail and whippoorwills.


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