Franklin's Bumble Bee Still Elusive
Oct. 12, 2011
Robbin Thorp with a computer screen of Franklin's bumble bee.
DAVIS--Suspected sightings of the critically imperiled Franklin's bumble bee in Douglas County, Ore.--a bee, being studied and monitored by Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis--have unfortunately turned out to be unfounded..
But the good news is more people are looking for Franklin's bumble bee, Bombus franklini (Frison), which is expected to be listed soon as endangered.
In an article published Oct. 12 article in The News-Review, Douglas County, reporter John Sowell wrote that "amateur bee sleuths throughout Douglas County have been keeping an eye out for the Franklin's bumble bee since the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced last month it is considering placing the elusive bee on the Endangered Species."
Franklin's bumble bee on California poppy. Click to enlarge. (Photo by Robbin Thorp)
Since the paper published a photo of the bee in its Sept. 13 edition, nearly two dozen area residents think they've spotted it and have been sending photos of bees to the newsroom. Thorp has identified each of them as other species. Some are the yellow-faced bumble bee (Bombus vosnesenskii).
Franklin's bumble bee, mostly black, has distinctive yellow markings on the front of its thorax and top of its head, Thorp said. It has a solid black abdomen with just a touch of white at the tip, and an inverted U-shaped design between its wing bases.
Franklin’s bumble bee, found only in a narrow range of southern Oregon and northern California, hasn't been seen since 2006.. Its range, a 13,300-square-mile area confined to Siskiyou and Trinity counties in California; and Jackson, Douglas and Josephine counties in Oregon, is thought to be the smallest of any other bumble bee in North America and the world.
Sowell's news article, used with permission, is below.
Douglas County Insect Sightings Create Buzz, news article by John Sowell of The News-Review, Douglas County, Ore. (PDF).
Franklin's Bumble Bee May Soon Be Listed as Endangered
Declining Bumble Bee Population Alarming
Robbin Thorp's Bumble Bee Research Yields Dickson Award
Mission to Save Franklin's Bumble Bee
Endangered Species Act
California’s List of Endangered Species
Bumble Bees in Decline (Xerces Society)
Bumble Bees in California (UC Berkeley)
Urban Bee Gardens (UC Berkeley)
Watch Robbin Thorp's Webinar on bumble bees
--Kathy Keatley Garvey
UC Davis Department of Entomology