Arboretum Prairies Offer Rare Refuge for Vanishing Bumblebee

A rusty-patched bumblebee on Culver’s root in the UW–Madison Arboretum. The Arboretum’s prairies, woodlands and gardens are a paradise for the rusty-patched and at least a dozen other bumblebee species. PHOTO: SUSAN DAY/UW–MADISON ARBORETUM

A rusty-patched bumblebee on Culver’s root in the UW–Madison Arboretum. The Arboretum’s prairies, woodlands and gardens are a paradise for the rusty-patched and at least a dozen other bumblebee species. PHOTO: SUSAN DAY/UW–MADISON ARBORETUM

“A proposal by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to seek endangered status for the rusty-patched bumblebee has focused renewed attention on bumblebees living at the University of Wisconsin–Madison Arboretum. This 1,200-acre natural area in Madison still has wild populations of the rare insect, which was fairly common until about 20 years ago.

“The proposal cited habitat loss, insecticide use and climate change as the primary causes of the bee’s decline.

“By 2010, when the rusty-patched bumblebee was first identified at the Arboretum, it had already disappeared from at least 90 percent of its original range, says Susan Carpenter, the Arboretum’s native plant gardener and bumblebee expert.”

Read the full UW News story by David Tenenbaum, October 4, 2016

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