The United States is on a mission to save some of its busiest workers: bees.
In a first for bees in the nation, seven bee species native to Hawaii are now protected under the Endangered Species Act.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service said it added the yellow-faced bee species to the federal list of endangered species Friday night after years of research concluded they are under threat.
The rule is effective October 31.
Bees pollinate plants producing fruit, nuts and vegetables, and are crucial for the nation’s food industry.
They have declined sharply in recent years due to various factors, including habitat loss, wildfires and loss of genetic diversity.
“Native pollinators in the US provide essential pollination services to agriculture which are valued at more than $9 billion annually,” said Eric Lee-Mäder, pollinator program co-director at the Xerces Society, which was involved in petitions calling for the protection of the bee species.
During pollination, insects, birds and bats transfer pollen between plants, which allows them to make seeds and reproduce.
Listing the bees allows authorities to provide recovery programs and get funding for protection.