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As Honeybees Die Off, First Inventory of Wild Bees Is Under Way

By Sasha Ingber for National Geographic
7/15/2014 6:50:14 AM

The following is an excerpt from National Geographic:

Not every bee may count, but Sam Droege is counting every bee.

On Saturdays, the head of the landmark Native Bee Inventory and Monitoring Program at the U.S. Geological Survey leaves his straw-bale house, where bees burrow in the walls, and goes to his office-for pleasure. From his desk, a recycled segment of a lane from a bowling alley, he pores over bee specimens with a microscope.

A series of pictures of a male and female species that loves Bellflowers (Campanula). Meaning that the female of this species provisions its nest (note: males never help in all Hymenoptera) with the pollen of this plant. The interesting thing here is that this species originates in Europe and that it only became established after the widespread invasive creeping bellflower came into the continent. This bee species has now been found in New England, Ontario, and New York and expected to spread. (Credit: Flickr/US Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab)

"I'm looking deeply into [their] eyes to see what they reveal," said Droege. "I'm looking for species in potential trouble, gathering information on their status before they're designated an endangered species."

Droege is pioneering the first national inventory of indigenous wild bees, a task of growing importance. The buzz started in 2006 when honeybees, the non-native species used commercially to pollinate crops, began to mysteriously vanish after leaving their hives. If honeybees continue to wane in coming decades, scientists believe wild bees could save our crops.

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