bumble bees

Xerces Society / Via The Associated Press

Federal wildlife officials have made a formal recommendation that a bumble bee that was once quite common throughout eastern North America, including Maine, be listed as an endangered species.

Mark McCullough with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the range of the rusty patched bumble bee has decreased by 90 percent in the past decade. He says threats to the bee and other pollinators include loss of habitat, diseases and parasites.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine wildlife officials are enlisting members of the public to assist in a multi-year statewide survey looking into the diversity, distribution and abundance of the state's 17 known bumble bee species.

The large furry yellow and black insects are important pollinators.  But in the past 25 years, certain North American species have declined significantly.

State Inland Fisheries and Wildlife biologist Beth Swartz, who's coordinating the project, says volunteer citizen scientists will help researchers learn more about Maine's bumble bee population.