The global decline in bee populations has been attributed to habitat loss, pesticides, parasites, and pathogens. Native bumblebees are important pollinators of wild flowering plants and crops such as tomatoes and berries and are appreciated for their beauty.
Unfortunately, five of our twenty-three species of native bumblebees in Minnesota are considered vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
The rusty patched bumblebee, Bombus affinis, was the first bumblebee to be listed as federally endangered in the U.S. Rusty patched bumblebee populations in Minnesota are crucial to population preservation and recovery as over 35% of all observed individuals in 2018 were in Minnesota.
Our goal is to protect native pollinators from risk of disease transmission and population declines. By screening and neutralizing bee pathogens, we wish to promote best management practices to maintain honey bee health and prevent pathogen spillover into native bee populations.
University of Minnesota Extension thanks the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR) for funding this research and Tallgrass Biologics for their collaboration.