Have you seen this bee?

The New York Flora Association is calling on all backyard entomologists to keep a sharp eye out for the rusty-patched bumblebee and the yellow banded bumblebee. If you spot one, let them know.

According to the Xerxes Society, the two bee species are declining steeply and in danger of extinction, and are threatened by diseases spread by commercially raised bumblebees that are transported across the country for crop pollination.

On February 10, 2010, a broad coalition of scientists submitted a letter to the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) requesting that they create new regulations to protect wild bumble bees from threats posed by commercial bumble bees. The letter was signed by over 60 scientists with research on bumble bees and other bees.

We haven't seen any rusty-patched bumblebees in our travels around the Catskills, but we did get a good snapshot recently of its commoner cousin, the orange-belted bumblebee.

Photo of rusty-patched bumblebee by Flickr user Greg Page.