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Several Bumblebee Species Have Disappeared Or Declined In Vermont, According To New Study

A Common Eastern Bumblebee visits a salvia flower at a pollinator garden at the Birds Of Vermont Museum.
Kent McFarland
/
Vermont Center For Ecostudies
A Common Eastern Bumblebee visits a salvia flower at a pollinator garden at the Birds Of Vermont Museum. A recently released study has found that about half of Vermont's native species of bees have disappeared or are in decline.

About half of Vermont's native species of bumblebees have disappeared or are in serious decline — that's a principal finding of a new study out this month by the Vermont Center for Ecostudies and the University of Vermont.

The study found that possible reasons for the decline include changes in land use, the introduction of non-native bee species, pesticide use and climate change.

Kent McFarland, a conservation biologist with the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, co-authored the new research. He said bees thrive in grasslands, and as the state has re-forested and developed, that's limited bee habitat.

McFarland said the decline of bumblebee species could be slowed by changes in land management.

"Stop mowing so much in some places if we don't have to, leaving strips unmowed, having ... wildflower plantings along roadways — all these kind of things really help bees," McFarland said.

A group of pesticides known as neonicotinoids has also been harmful to bees. McFarland said cutting the use of those pesticides could help the bee population.

VPR's Henry Epp spoke with Kent McFarland of the Vermont Center for Ecostudies. Listen to their conversation above.

Correction 5:03 p.m. A previous version of this post included a photo of a honeybee instead of a bumblebee.

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