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Bumble Bees

To ensure healthy ecosystems, the Xerces Society’s endangered species team conserves at-risk species and their habitats through research, advocacy, education, conservation planning, and restoration. Our team of conservation biologists holds degrees in entomology, ecology, biology, and environmental science, and has decades of experience working with rare and at-risk terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates. We share a passion for conserving invertebrates that are imperiled with extinction.
 

The Xerces Society works on a number of fronts to address the many issues that all pollinators face. This includes working with citizen scientists and land-owners, collaborating with agencies and scientists, and advoacy. Our approach to bumble bee conservation encompasses a coordinated effort involving research, advocating for necessary protections, establishing and communicating management guidelines, and providing outreach and education in the form of short courses and workshops.

All bumble bees belong to the genus Bombus within the family Apidae. The family Apidae includes the well-known honey bees and bumble bees, as well as carpenter bees, cuckoo bees, digger bees, stingless bees, and orchid bees. Bumble bees are important pollinators of wild flowering plants and crops. As generalist foragers, they do not depend on any one flower type. However, some plants do rely on bumble bees to achieve pollination. Loss of bumble bees can have far ranging ecological impacts due to their role as pollinators.

Because they are essential pollinators, loss of bumble bees can have far ranging ecological consequences. Alarmingly, recent work by the Xerces Society in concert with IUCN Bumble Bee Specialist Group, indicates that some species have experienced rapid and dramatic declines more than others. While some species have received considerable conservation attention, other species such as the Suckley cuckoo bumble bee and the variable cuckoo bumble bee have been largely overlooked.

Successful pollinator habitat provides resources for the entire life-cycle. While pollen and nectar sources support adult bees and butterflies, you need to also provide adequate nesting habitat if you want pollinators to live in your landscape rather than just pass through. There are many ways to provide nesting resources through natural and man-made features or simply by changing land management practices. Below is an overview of the nesting needs of bees and butterflies.