Bees are in danger. The falling population of the pollinators has led bumblebees being recommended to the endangered species list.
Worries are escalating as to what would happen to food production if pollinators disappeared so rapidly. In this bleak scenario, Iowa town Cedar Rapids is leading by example as it initiated a novel step of creating a bee paradise in 1,000 acres of land and is starting with 188 acres by seeding wild flowers and prairie grasses.
According to scientists, the pollinator crisis has been aggravated by the loss of habitats triggered by excessive use of pesticides, pathogens and after effects of climate change.
The loss of natural habitat is accentuated by farming, mowing of lawns, parking lots and human developments, which have displaced fields of wildflower.
Now Cedar Rapids' gesture may give pollinators fair places to nest and feed on the flowers.
Mooted by Daniel Gibbins, Superintendent of Cedar Rapids Park, the 1,000 Acre Pollinator Initiative is coming up under a partnership with the Monarch Research Project that is aiming to bolster monarch butterfly populations.
"With the agricultural boom around 100 years ago, about 99.9 percent of all the native habitat of Iowa has been lost," said Gibbins.
The plan is to convert the entire stretch of 1,000 acres into a habitat of bees for which funding of $180,000 has been committed by the MRP and state agencies.
He said the bees' habitat would help birds, amphibians, reptiles, mammals and everything that relies on native vegetation.
To fortify the habitat of bees, Cedar Rapids is developing a mix of grasses and wildflowers for wider diversity.
As flowers draw bees and butterflies, the prairie grasses will thwart weeds and invasive species from choking out the flowers.
Trump Administration Sued
Meanwhile, the Trump administration has been sued by an environmental group for delaying the entry of rusty patched bumblebees into the list of endangered species.
The plan was to add the species to the list on Feb. 10 after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed in 2016 that the creature must be brought under the federal protection list.
Bumblebees are predominantly found in the Midwest and the Northeastern United States.
The Natural Resources Defense Council reasoned that the delay followed a review ordered by the White House on the rules issued by the Obama administration in the domain of environment and public health.
In the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in New York, the group accused wildlife officials of breaching a law by suspending the listing of bumblebee without any comment or public notice.
"The science is clear – this species is headed toward extinction, and soon. There is no legitimate reason to delay federal protections," Natural Resources Defense Council senior attorney Rebecca Riley said in a statement.
Native bumblebees in the United States and Canada are spread in 47 varieties with a quarter under threat of extinction, said the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
Treat Bees As Animals
Meanwhile, lawmakers and beekeepers in Western Maryland are demanding protection for apiarists who would shoot black bears to save the bee colonies from attack.
Though using force against black bears to defend livestock is held legal, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources is not recognizing bees as animals and have classified them as insects.
Lawmaker Mike McKay wants bees officially recognized as animals.
"Currently by law, if you are defending your property, your livestock, you can shoot at a bear to save the livestock," McKay said.
He wanted bees and bee colonies granted the same protection as other farm animals. In the region, the risk is that bees – being classified as insects and not animals — offers no legal protection to anyone who harms a bear while protecting a bee colony.
The Department of Natural Resources website says it is illegal to kill a bear unless it attacks livestock or threatens a person's life. It implies that killing a black bear for a bee colony will attract same penalties as in any other case of endangerment with maximum $1,500 fine and six months' imprisonment.