Thursday, September 19, 2013
PORTLAND (AP) — A six-week survey of bumblebee species in Oregon’s Mount Hood National Forest has produced an encouraging find — a dozen of the increasingly rare western bumblebees.
The inch-long, white-bottomed bee was once one of the most common pollinators in the West. But about 15 years ago, an Oregon Zoo news release says, they mysteriously disappeared west of the Cascade Mountains.
With funding from the zoo Foundation’s Future for Wildlife program, Xerces Society biologist Rich Hatfield conducted the survey this summer. On week four, he found the western bumblebees near Timberline Lodge.
Hatfield says this discovery suggests that the species might have a chance to repopulate its range.
Scientists suspect a combination of disease and parasites in the dwindling of both wild and domesticated bees. The nonprofit Xerces Society protects invertebrates.