How many native bees in your state or country?

So this was the start of an interesting thread on Twitter this week:

“I need some info from my U.S. bee peeps (and international would bee cool too.) How many NATIVE species of bees exist in your state or country? Please reply with location and #.” – out chasing bees @ecogeekmama

According to the responses, here's what the bee species count looks like from a sampling of places around the globe:

1900 Brazil

1600 California, U.S.A.

1000 South Africa

980 Italy

900+ Sonoran Desert (Tuscon, Arizona, U.S.A.)

800 Canada

580 Germany

500 British Columbia, Canada

470 Chile

467 Michigan, U.S.A.

417 New York, U.S.A. (including 21 exotic species)

414 Pennsylvania, U.S.A. (including 23 exotic species)

400 Ontario, Canada

300+ Florida, U.S.A.

200-400 Oklahoma, U.S.A.

190 Wales

For the record: I did not independently verify these numbers because everyone who responded appeared to have solid bee-based backgrounds.

The list is notably heavy with counts from North America and Europe – I’d love to see more counts from Africa and South America. And let’s give a shout out to Wales! As @ecogeekmama commented: “That’s pretty good for an island!” Although Wales is actually a country sharing an island with England, her comment still made me think: How do bee communities on islands typically compare to mainland communities in terms of richness and abundance?

And is there a standard or average or baseline ratio of native-to-exotic bee species? Seeing how New York and Pennsylvania have roughly the same number of total species and roughly the same number of exotics, I’d be curious to see what the ratios are like in the other regions listed.

For anyone specifically interested in bee species estimates here in the U.S., James Weaver @jrwbees mentioned that “Someone ;-) made a pretty neat little tool which shows estimated numbers of species per state”. If you’re not already familiar with the National Bee & Lepidoptera Richness Tool, I highly recommend checking it out.

Correction, Feb 19, 2021

A previous version of this post was written in a way that suggested that Wales is an island unto itself. Wales is a country that shares an island with England and Scotland. Hasty editing was the cause of this error. Mae'n ddrwg gen i.

This is the last weekend to catch the Bees of Grand Staircase-Escalante as part of the virtual Colorado Environmental Film Festival (Wildlife #2 collection) – the festival ends Sunday, Feb. 21. You can get a pass for the entire event or just for a single collection of films. Enjoy!


Progress report reveals boost for bees and other pollinators in Scotland

(Deadline) More than 30 partners of NatureScot recorded good progress made across the year towards delivering the Pollinator Strategy for Scotland. The strategy aims to make Scotland more pollinator-friendly, halting and reversing the decline in native pollinator populations. The report praises the work of local authorities as they continue to introduce pollinator-friendly ways to manage their parks and green spaces.

Neonicotinoid pesticide residues found in Irish honey

(Trinity College Dublin) Of 30 honey samples tested, 70% contained at least one neonicotinoid compound. Almost half (48%) the samples contained at least two neonicotinoids. Residue levels were below the admissible limits for human consumption according to current EU regulations, and thus pose no risk to human health. However, the average concentration of one compound (imidacloprid) was higher than concentrations that have been shown in other studies to induce negative effects on honey and bumble bees.


Opening brief filed in lawsuit challenging Trump administration’s expansion of sulfoxaflor

(Center for Biological Diversity) The Center for Food Safety and the Center for Biological Diversity filed the opening brief in their lawsuit challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s approval of the insecticide sulfoxaflor. The two groups sued the Trump administration in 2019 over its decision to approve the use of sulfoxaflor on pollinator-attractive crops across more than 200 million acres. The opening brief argues that the EPA failed to consider sulfoxaflor’s harms to the nation’s endangered and threatened species, bumble bees and all other native pollinators.


Biodiversity protects bee communities from disease

(ScienceDaily, University of Michigan) A new analysis of thousands of native and nonnative Michigan bees shows that the most diverse bee communities have the lowest levels of three common viral pathogens.

How does it feel to be a bee? The quest to understand animal sentience

(Horizon Magazine) What's it like to be a bee? Or a spider? Does a crab feel pleasure or pain? Behavioral and welfare science has moved on considerably in the past 20 years, but there is still a huge amount we don’t know about how animals actually feel – or, indeed, whether they all do. The ASENT project plans to test sentience in bees over the next few years.


Drone-based photogrammetry: A reliable and low-cost method for estimating plant biomass

(EurekAlert, Botanical Society of America) Remote sensing technology has become an increasingly common tool used to measure plant productivity without the need for costly and time-consuming field-based measurements. However, the equipment typically used to remotely measure vegetation has remained prohibitively expensive. Here, researchers used a low-cost drone and camera to create a photomosaic of a tallgrass ecosystem. By comparing their results with measurements collected in the field, they demonstrate that photogrammetry is an accurate and reliable method of estimating biomass.

One More Thing…

“I do not envy the critter that was on the other end of this dive bomb.” From Tim Osborne @tim_osborne via Twitter.