Commercial Bumblebee Policy Statement

The IUCN BBSG issues the following statement addressing the serious risks posed by transport of bumblebees for commercial pollination

The global trade in bumblebee colonies for crop pollination, most notably of the European species Bombus terrestris and the North American species Bombus impatiens, has resulted in the establishment of bumblebee species far from their native ranges, for example in Japan, parts of Australasia, Chile and Argentina. Invasive, non-native bumblebee species pose multiple risks to native species, including: competition, hybridization resulting in loss of locally adapted ecotypes, and introduction of non-native bee diseases. There is evidence that parasites from commercial bumblebees may have been irreversibly introduced or spread in Japan, North America and South America, with potentially profound impacts on native bumblebees.

The IUCN BBSG considers that the commercial movement and deployment of bumblebees for pollination should be governed by the precautionary principle to prevent unintended harm. Only local bumblebee species and subspecies should be grown for commercial development and employed within their native ranges. All commercial bumblebees should be thoroughly screened for parasites by both producers and independent regulators. If commercial bumblebees, as opposed to (or in combination with) habitat management to support wild pollinator assemblages, are to be used in open field settings, only native species (or geographically appropriate sub-species) of commercial bumblebees should be used. All use within greenhouses should be controlled to eliminate risk of escape.

This statement is available in the following languages: