Bee Diversity

Much of the work in our lab focuses on understanding and documenting patterns of bee diversity on a local, regional and global scale.

We rely on and contribute to the growth of the Cornell University Insect Collection, 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. Our holdings are especially strong for bees of North America, but members of the lab have conducted field work on bees in South and Central America, Australia, Africa (including Madagascar), and Europe. We are currently involved in a three-year exhaustive survey of the bees of New York State. This project is part of the larger National Pollinator Protection National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators.

Current Projects

Our lab is involved in a state-wide survey of bees and other pollinators as part of an effort led by the NY Natural Heritage Program to develop an “Empire State Native Pollinator Survey”. The goal of the Empire State Native Pollinator Survey is to determine the conservation status of a wide array of native insect pollinators in nonagricultural habitats, including bees.

The project will involve extensive surveys throughout NY state to help determine the conservation status of the most important pollinators in the state, with a focus on Andrena, Megachile, Melissodes, Macropis, and Bombus. In addition to the extensive surveys we will be conducting targeted habitat surveys, focused on habitats that are rare of threatened and targeted species surveys, focused on specific taxa including oil bees in the genus Macropis and bumble bees. The project will have a significant “citizen science” component.

For more information on the Empire State Native Pollinator Survey, see the project website or contact Maria Van Dyke


The bee family Melittidae is among the most important of all bee families. The family includes just over 170 described species but many species are narrow host-plant specialists and they may represent a very early branch of bee phylogeny.

Macropis nuda (above) is a representative of the subfamily Melittinae. Macropis are oil collecting bees that specialize on a single genus of plants (Lysimachia).

Drawing by Frances Fawcett.


Related Files

NSF-BRC project summary (PDF)

NSF-BRC project abstract (PDF)

CUIC bee species list (PDF)

WHCU radio interview podcast (MP3)