WASHINGTON — For the first time in the United States, bees have been placed on the endangered species list.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service determined that seven species of yellow-faced bees, all native to Hawaii, should be protected under the Endangered Species Act. All seven belong to the Hylaeus genus. Together, the wasp-ish looking bees are more commonly known as ‘‘yellow-faced’’ or ‘‘masked’’ for their yellow-to-white facial markings.
These species are responsible for pollinating some of Hawaii’s indigenous plant species, many of which are threatened themselves.
The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, a nonprofit that aims to protect pollinators and other invertebrates, had pushed for yellow-faced bees to be recognized and protected. The group takes its name from the Xerces Blue butterfly, which it says is the first butterfly known to become extinct in North America as a result of human activities
According to the federal agency, yellow-faced bees have been threatened by non-native bees and other invasive animal species, as well as by human development.