Hawaiian bee species now protected

On September 30th,2016,  the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service published a declaration that several animal and plant species are now under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (Act). Among those species are seven bee species known as yellow-faced bees (Hylaeus anthracinus, H. assimulans, H. facilis, H. hilaris, H.kuakea, H. longiceps, and H. mana). 

This rule was effective on October 31, 2016, after several years of effort by the Xerces Society, who had been submitting petitions to the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service since March 2009. This rule makes these seven bee species the first ones in the country to be protected under this Act, marking an important moment in pollinator conservation.

The Hawaiian Isles have only one native bee genus, Hylaeus. These bees commonly called yellow-faced bees because of the yellow markings on their faces,  are tiny bees which can be unnoticed by people, or if noticed, mistaken by a wasp.  They are slender black/brown bees which look hairless to the naked eye, but under the microscope, you can see some hair and a distinctive face with yellow marks.

Hylaeus nest in hollow stems and are often found in small strips of habitat enclosed by agricultural land or urban developments. They have a really distinctive characteristic that defines them from other bee species by carrying pollen internally, inside their crop, or also called honey stomach.

As more attention is focused on pollinators and their importance in natural systems, this listing will help to direct funding to projects involving restoration and conservation of the species.

For more information on this historical listing visit the Federal Register website or go directly to final rule . Also you can visit  Xerces Society and look for their species profile for the seven Hawaiian yellow-faced bees: Hawaiian bee species profile

Or access this great fact sheet produced by Karl Magnacca for more information on Hawaii’s native bees.