Good News! Bombus occidentallis making a comeback!
In the summer of 2012 some workers of B. occidentalis were spotted in and around a park north of Seattle. They were also observed on the north east side of the Olympic Mountains. In 2013 more were observed in both of these locations. The bumble bee species B. occidentalis was a common species of the northwest until it disappeared in 1998. There are some populations of B. occidentalis still found in other regions of the west.
Researchers with the USDA bee lab in Utah are trying to find the cause of the decline in several bumble bee species across the U.S. In the summer of 2008 we worked with the USDA bee lab, sharing info and samples trying to identify some diseases of bumble bees.
We are raising local species of bumble bees to use for pollination of several crops. We hope to develop techniques for raising local species for commercial use within there native range.
If you find a nest of B. occidentalis we would be interested in knowing about it.
The following links are with the Xerces Society. They have information on identification, life history, distribution, threats and increased risk of decline of bumble bee species.