For the first time ever, bees are now considered an endangered species in the United States.
On Friday, the Federal Register publicized the decision classifying seven types of the honey-producing insects endangered, noting that loss of habitat and competition with invasive non-indigenous insects had caused their numbers to dwindle in recent years.
According to the Register, seven types of “yellow-faced bees” are now threatened – with serious implications for the ecosystem in their native Hawaii.
The Xerces Society, which has monitored the decline of the bees over the past few years, claims that the decline of yellow-faced bees can be chalked up to “feral pigs, invasive ants, loss of native habitat due to invasive plants, fire, as well as development,” said Xerces rep Sarina Jepson.
Without bees serving as pollinators, a whole host of plants – including fruit-bearing plants crucial to the local agriculture industry – could be threatened.
The bees “help maintain the structure of the whole forest,” said entomologist Karl Magnacca, who warned that changes in the Hawaiian ecosystem could have far-reaching consequences.