Seven species of bees in Hawaii have been classified as endangered, the first time the insect has been protected by federal law.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has granted seven species of yellow-faced bees native to the islands protection under the Endangered Species Act, which will hopefully “allow authorities to implement recovery programs, access funding and limit their harm from outside sources,” Gregory Koob of USFW told The Associated Press. The yellow-faced bee’s population faces a range of threats, like habitat destruction, invasive species both animal and vegetable, and all manner of natural phenomena such as wildfires, hurricanes, tsunamis and droughts.
This news represents an important step for bees in general. They — and many other pollinating species like butterflies — are in danger across the world: About 40 percent of invertebrate pollinating species are facing extinction, according to a U.N. report released in February. This could have devastating effects on global agriculture, as about 75 percent of the world’s crops rely on pollination to grow.
The ruling also grants protection to 39 plant species found in Hawaii and three other native animals: the band-romped storm-petrel, the orangeblack Hawaiian damselfly and the anchialine pool shrimp.
Bees in certain parts of the U.S. are facing a different threat, as aerial spraying, aimed to combat Zika-spreading mosquitos, is killing hives en masse.