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    Legal status of Bumble Bees in California
    • October 6, 2021

    Two bumble bees nectaring on small white flowers
    Bombus occidentalis photograph by iNaturalist user @johnccnd (CC BY-NC 4.0) from Plumas County, California

    The California Natural Diversity Database (CNDDB) tracks 6 bumble bees (Bombus sp.) that are identified as species of greatest conservation need. Four of these bumble bees were petitioned to the State of California in 2018 and the Fish and Game Commission advanced them to candidacy in June 2019 (B. franklini, B. crotchii, B. occidentalis, B. suckleyi). This was challenged in court and in November 2020 the Superior Court ruled that insects are not eligible for listing under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). Pending ongoing litigation, no bumble bees have legal status under CESA and none are currently considered candidates for listing by the State.

    However, effective 23 September 2021, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has listed Franklin’s bumble bee (Bombus franklini) as federally Endangered. Franklin’s bumble bee has one of the smallest ranges of Bombus spp. worldwide, only known from the Klamath Mountains region of northern California and southern Oregon. Franklin’s bumble bee has faced precipitous decline. The last known detection of Franklin’s bumble bee in California was in 1998 and the last known detection in Oregon was in 2006, the latter despite regular survey efforts to historic sites. Some fear this species may already be extinct.

    Common Name Scientific Name State
    State Rank
    Other Status
    Franklin's bumble bee B. franklini None Endangered S1 IUCN Critical
    Crotch bumble bee B. crotchii None None S1S2 IUCN Endangered
    western bumble bee B. occidentalis None None S1 IUCN Vulnerable
    Suckley's cuckoo
    bumble bee
    B. suckleyi None None S1 IUCN Critical
    obscure bumble bee B. caliginosus None None S1S2 IUCN Vulnerable
    Morrison bumble bee B. morrisoni None None S1S2 IUCN Vulnerable

    Additional resources:

    Categories: Education and Awareness

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