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Endangered bumblebee delays Twin Cities road project

Hennepin County is delaying a southern Twin Cities road project because of a bee.

And it’s not just any bee – it’s the rusty patched bumblebee which was recently recognized as an endangered species.

The county was supposed to start fixing up Flying Cloud Drive – County Road 61 – in Eden Prairie and Chanhassen this spring. But according to a project update, the work area is near a habitat where the bumblebee could potentially thrive.

Hennepin County officials tell KARE 11 they’re looking to see if the bee is around there or not.

So far, none of the bees have been spotted there. But conservationists want to be safe.

The county is working with federal officials for direction; however, it looks like the project is on hold until further notice. County officials hope to start things up later this year.

What is the construction project, anyways?

Well, it’s supposed to be a two-step project.

First, the county wants to focus on fixing up Flying Cloud Drive from Charlson Road to Spring Road. Workers will spend about a year fixing up the driving surface and making the road more safe. It’ll also be raised a bit to help minimize closures if the Minnesota River floods.

Once that’s finished, the county will focus on another stretch from Spring Road to County Road 101. That will take about 16 months to complete.

For the latest on this project, click here.

About the rusty patched bumblebee

The rusty patched bumblebee is native to the Midwest, and it used to be super common 20 years ago.

Wildlife officials say it had been found in 28 different states. But since the late 1990s, the rusty patched bumblebee population has rapidly plummeted by 87 percent. Now they’re only found in 13 states – including Minnesota – and one Canadian province.

Experts say several factors can be attributed to this decline: Loss of habitat, disease and parasites, pesticides, climate change, and just having a small population.

If you’d like to learn more about how you can help the bees, click here.

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