By Charlotte Osoria, age 9

Did you know there are over 255 species of bumblebee around the world, 49 of which live in North America? One such species is the American bumblebee. 

Photo by Pauline HornFollow, available on Flickr

Bumblebees play an important role in our ecosystem. They pollinate wildflowers, many plant species and important food crops. However, over the last 20 years, American bumblebee populations have decreased by 89% across the United States, according to a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity. 

The American bumblebee was once the most common bee in all of North America, but now they are completely gone from at least eight states. Scientists say climate change is a major issue causing bumblebees to die off, because the heat affects their ability to pollinate and fly. If the world keeps getting hotter, bees could be completely eradicated. Pesticides used for large-scale farming, habitat loss and competition from honey bees are some of the main factors driving the American bumblebee to extinction.

Many people think bees are harmful, but they are only harmful if you bother them. Without bees, food resources will become more scarce. To help protect bumblebees, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will conduct a one-year review of American bumblebee populations, after which the species could become protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). If bees are protected under the ESA, anyone who kills a bumblebee will face a fine of up to $13,000. Bumblebees help our ecosystem, and we should be grateful for what they do for us. Without them, our world would look completely different.