Something’s buzzing in Rhode Island, and researchers hope it’s here to stay


EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — It’s been more than a decade since the last American Bumblebee was spotted in Rhode Island.

But this past summer, the species made its return to the Ocean State, according to Steve Alm, an entomologist and professor at the University of Rhode Island.

The bee was spotted back in August, Alm said. The last known sighting of the species in Rhode Island was reported back in 2009.

The American Bumblebee was originally spotted by Robin Baranowski, a botanist in the Natural Resources Science department at the University of Rhode Island. Alm said she was aware of the studies they were conducting and passed the images along to Alm and his team.

Credit: Robin Baranowski

Alm said the insect was captured to confirm whether it was, in fact, an American Bumblebee. Once the bee was photographed and correctly identified by experts at the University of Maine, Alm said it was released back into the wild.

The most exciting part of this sighting, Alm said, is that the bee is a queen.

“That’s good news,” he said. “Hopefully she makes it through the winter and starts a bunch of more colonies.”

The American Bumblebee isn’t considered an endangered species. But Alm said the species is currently being reviewed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which will determine whether it has reached that status.

Alm said while the American Bumblebee is beneficial for all crops and plants, he suggests Rhode Islanders plant certain flowers in their yards to help the bees survive and thrive.

Below is a list of the flowers that residents can plant in their yards to bolster the state’s bee population.

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