A key commission in California is taking action to protect four species of native bumble bees by voting to start the process of listing them as endangered under the state’s Endangered Species Act.

The California Fish and Game Commission voted to begin a scientific review leading to a listing of the western bumble bee, the Crotch bumble bee, Franklin’s bumble bee and the Suckley bumble bee as endangered.

The vote followed a petition by conservation and food safety groups and a report by the state’s Fish and Wildlife department into the declines in bee populations and their historic range.

If listed, the bees would be the first pollinators and insects added to the state’s endangered species list. Insects are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Bees play a crucial role in pollinating the world’s crops and ESA protections would not only help sustain their populations but help ensure plant-based crops survive. While insects are not specifically noted in the species that can be listed under the state’s ESA, the counsel for the Fish and Game Commission indicated that the bees could be incorporated under the California Fish and Game Code’s definitions.

So, cheers to California, and its provocative and proactive pollinator protection plan. Bumble bees are buzzed about it and so are we.