MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A west metro construction project is delayed because of who may live along the roadway.

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service recently put the rusty patched bumble bee on the federal endangered species list.

The decision meant scientists had to work to determine if reconstruction along Flying Cloud Drive in Eden Prairie and Chanhassen would disrupt the bees’ habitat.

The insect is the first bumble bee on the federal endangered list, according to Ping Honzay with the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum’s Bee and Pollinator Center.

“It is really a big wake-up call for us all,” Honzay said. “Pollinators are pollinating flowers that need to be pollinated to give us fruits, like tomatoes and apples that we can eat.”

Honzay says bees are often cornerstone of many ecosystems, and road construction projects can pose a serious threat to bees.

The rusty patched bumble bee (credit: Heather Holm)

“Rusty patched bumble bees are ground-nesting bees,” Honzay said. “So the area that they’re looking at for the construction project is just really prime habitat for them.”

The road work on the four-mile stretch of Flying Cloud Drive was scheduled to begin in April, but the new endangered designation for the bee means Hennepin County had to put the project on hold for weeks of more research.

The road construction is meant to lift the roadway so it is less susceptible to flooding.

Hennepin County spokesperson Erica Skinner says the Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ultimately gave the county the green light to continue on with the project.

“It was determined that the bumble bee is not affected by this particular project,” Skinner said.

Hennepin County still has no start date for this project, but will look to the Army Corps of Engineers and the Fish and Wildlife Service to determine if any more future projects could hurt the bees.

“We want to make sure that we have an efficient, safe transportation system, but also one that helps protect natural resources,” Skinner said.

The University of Minnesota Bee Lab has a new research project with the Minnesota Department of Transportation to determine use of roadside habitat by the rusty patched bumble bee in the Twin Cities metro.

[graphiq id=”Rj1OeweEjr” title=”Bombus affinis” width=”600″ height=”598″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/Rj1OeweEjr” link_text=”Graphiq” ]

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