What an amazing discovery from my home state and local area! I may have to spend some time over in the Sacramento Mountains this coming summer to see if I can snap a photo or two of this rare bumble bee…
Southwest Farm Press – A team of scientists from the University of California, Riverside recently rediscovered the rarest species of bumblebee in the United States, last seen in 1956, living in the White Mountains of south-central New Mexico.
Known as “Cockerell’s bumblebee,” the bee was originally described in 1913 from six specimens collected along the Rio Ruidoso, with another 16 specimens collected near the town of Cloudcroft and one more from Ruidoso, the most recent being in 1956. No other specimens had been recorded until three more were collected on weeds along a highway north of Cloudcroft on Aug. 31, 2011.
“Most bumblebees in the U.S. are known from dozens to thousands of specimens, but not this species,” said Douglas Yanega, senior museum scientist at UC Riverside. “The area it occurs in is infrequently visited by entomologists, and the species has long been ignored because it was thought that it was not actually a genuine species, but only a regional color variant of another well-known species.”
Yanega pointed out that there are nearly 50 species of native U.S. bumblebees, including a few on the verge of extinction, such as the species known as “Franklin’s bumblebee,” which has been seen only once since 2003. That species, as rare as it is, is known from a distribution covering some 13,000 square miles, whereas Cockerell’s bumblebee is known from an area of less than 300 square miles, giving it the most limited range of any bumblebee species in the world. Read Full Story Here
Unrelated but interesting video about Queen Bumble Bees
- Rarest Bumblebee in US Rediscovered (livescience.com)
- Bumblebee boffins rediscover long-vanished species (go.theregister.com)
- Rare Cockerell’s Bumblebee Rediscovered, Last Seen in 1956 (inquisitr.com)
- Another Lost Species Is Found (naturalhistorywanderings.com)