Bee Diversity

Bee Diversity on global, regional and local scales

Much of the work in our lab focuses on understanding and documenting patterns of bee diversity on a local, regional and global scale. Many people would be surprised to learn that there are over 20,000 species of bees in the world. In the United States alone the estimate is more than 4000 species. In New York state there are over 450 species of bees.

The Cornell University Insect Collection has an extraordinary bee collection that dates from the latter part of the 19th century. Our holdings include over 350 drawers and between 150,000 and 270,000 bee specimens identified to ~3600 species (see complete list below). Our holdings are especially strong for bees of North America, but members of the lab have conducted field work on bees in South America, Australia, Africa (including Madagascar), and Europe.

The lab is involved in a major NSF-funded databasing project to make the specimen data from our collection available to scientists, policy-makers and the general public ("Collaborative Research: Collaborative Databasing of North American Bee Collections Within a Global Informatics Network"). The project involves a collaboration between the American Museum of Natural History (PI, John Ascher and co-PI Jerome Rozen, Jr.), UC Riverside (co-PI, Douglas Yanega), USDA-ARS Bee Biology and Systematics Laboratory at Utah State University, Cornell University, UC Davis, UC Berkeley, California State Collection of Arthropods, Los Angeles County Natural History Museum, University of Connecticut, and Rutgers University to make our bee specimen data available via the Discover Life website. These data provide information on the current distributions of bees and their ecological and host-plant preferences, and will provide baseline data for studies of how bee species will be impacted by human activities and climate change.

For more information on project activities at Cornell, please contact Achik Dorchin or Bryan Danforth.