Concerns buzz over bumblebee population

January 14, 2013



BURLINGTON, Vt. -A Vermont conservation group is buzzing about a sharp decline in some populations of bumblebees.


In recent years European honeybees, not bumblebees, have attracted all the attention because of so-called colony collapse disorder.


But the Vermont Center for Ecostudies said a survey they conducted last summer raises concern about the decline in some native bumblebees that used to be common in places like the Champlain Valley.


“There’s at least three species that are probably gone from Vermont — they’ve disappeared. They used to be dirt common in the 1970s — they’re gone. And then there are probably two or three other species that have such low populations now that were once pretty common in Vermont, that are down to very low populations that we need to either do something — figure out what’s going on and do something about it or they’re going to disappear too,” said Kent McFarland with the Vermont Center for Ecostudies.


McFarland said part of the cause comes from overseas. American Bumblebees exported to Europe as pollinators were re-imported, along with a European parasite. Loss of habitat is also a factor. Bumblebees are important pollinators for vegetables, berries, and fruit.


The full results of the survey are expected in the coming weeks.

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