The rusty patched bumblebee (Bombus affinis) is now the first bumblebee species to receive protections under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
The listing of the bee species was finalized today (Jan. 11) after a five-year campaign by environmental groups. The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation first petitioned for the listing in 2013 and, in 2014, joined with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to sue the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) for failing to act on the petition. The FWS subsequently issued a decision to list the bee as endangered in September 2016. Full protections for the bee go into effect Feb. 10.