Cockerell's Bumblebee rediscovered in New Mexico

Dec 7, 2011, 10:45 by R.E. Christian

A bumblebee species not seen in the United States since 1956 has been rediscovered living in the White Mountain of south-central New Mexico, researchers say.

Scientists from the University of California, Riverside, said "Cockerell's Bumblebee" was originally described in 1913 from just six specimens collected along the Rio Ruidoso -- with another 16 specimens collected near the town of Cloudcroft in New Mexico and one more from Ruidoso, the most recent being in 1956.

No other specimens had been recorded until Aug. 31, 2011, when three were collected on weeds along a highway north of Cloudcroft, a UC Riverside release said Monday.

"Most bumblebees in the United States are known from dozens to thousands of specimens, but not this species," Douglas Yanega, senior museum scientist at UC Riverside, said.

One of nearly 50 species of native U.S. bumblebees, Cockerell's Bumblebee is found in an area of less than 300 square miles, giving it the most limited range of any bumblebee species in the world, researchers said.

"Given that this bee occurs in an area that's largely composed of National Forest and Apache tribal land," Yanega said, "it's unlikely to be under serious threat of habitat loss at the moment.

"Since its biology is completely unknown, however, it nevertheless may require some more formal assessment in the future."

Source: UPI