Rusty-patched Bumble Bee

In 2015 we embarked on a project to tell the story of the Rusty-patched Bumble Bee (Bombus affinis), a rare North American native bee that had been petitioned for listing under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Our work was first sponsored by the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation and Endangered Species Chocolate. Through a variety of partnerships, we were able to expand the project to include two classroom videos about bumble bee science (with HHMI), a short web film for the California Academy of Sciences, and a short film with the Highlands Biological Station. Our films helped the Xerces Society gather 128,000 public signatures on a petition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list Bombus affinis as an Endangered species. The agency officially proposed the bee for Endangered status in September of 2016!

The Effects of Fungicides on Bumble Bee Colonies (HHMI Scientists At Work)

Are fungicides safe for bumble bees? Entomologist Shawn Steffan designed an experiment to answer this question.

Fungicides are routinely used in agriculture to protect crops from harmful fungi. Dr. Shawn Steffan at the University of Wisconsin-Madison discovered that the stored pollen and nectar that bumble bee larvae feed on is rich in yeast, a type of fungus. Based on this observation, he proposed that the use of fungicides could affect bumble bee food stores and ultimately the health of bumble bee colonies. He then designed an experiment to test this hypothesis by comparing the sizes of bumble bee colonies that forage on flowering plants grown in the presence or absence of fungicides.

Produced by Day's Edge Productions for HHMI BioInteractive
Music by New West Studios

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