The Rusty-patched Bumble Bee: A Ghost in the Making?

This past spring I officially launched Beautiful Bees: a multi-year project focusing on North America’s native bees. It has been an incredibly rewarding experience so far and I’m only getting started. One species that I hope to draw special attention to is the Rusty-patched Bumble Bee (Bombus affinis). This is an insect that has declined 87% in the last 15 years due, at least in part, to an introduced Eurasian pathogen. This species is the perfect poster-child for many of the continent’s threatened species. Project partner, The Xerces Society, has petitioned to have the Rusty-patched Bumble Bee protected under the Endangered Species Act. In spite of the challenges that bees are facing, not a single species out of nearly 4,000 is protected under the ESA. Much of my focus this year has been exploratory as I’ve searched for stories to tell and I couldn’t let this year go by without at least trying to find and photograph a living RPBB. A window of opportunity opened up this past September and so I flew up to Madison, Wisconsin, at the end of the field season, in hopes that things would work out. As luck would have it, my good friend Neil Losin of Day’s Edge Productions was also in the area on assignment and kindly joined me to film my first day of searching. Although I’ll certainly be returning to WI next year it is excellent to have a video record of this first excursion. Thanks to Neil and everyone at Day’s Edge for editing this piece and special thanks to Rich Hatfield of the Xerces Society and Susan Carpenter at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for all of their help in locating the bees.

A Ghost in the Making: Searching for the Rusty-patched Bumble Bee from Day's Edge Productions on Vimeo.

Comments are closed.