Eastern Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa virginica) Grovetown, GA, USA. by anthony296 via iNaturalist, CC0

May 20, 2024

World Bee Day!

Happy World Bee Day! In 2017 the United Nations General Assembly created World Bee Day to raise awareness of and promote actions for the protection of bees and other pollinators across the globe.

Diversity of Bees

Did you know that there are more than 20,000 species of bees globally (Ascher & Pickering, 2020)? While the domesticated European honeybee is often the posterchild for bees, there’s a vast array of bee species, each with unique characteristics and ecosystem roles. From bumblebees to carpenter bees, orchid bees to mason bees, the diversity of bees spans various sizes, colors, and behaviors. Bees are crucial pollinators, facilitating the reproduction of countless plant species, supporting a diversity of plant life that shapes landscapes and supports the survival of numerous species, including other pollinators and wildlife.

Global Status

Despite their ecological significance, bees are experiencing global declines due to numerous threats including habitat loss, pesticide exposure, climate change, and diseases (Potts et al., 2010). Many bee species are cryptic and understudied, leading to an unclear understanding of the conservation status of many wild bee species (Potts et al., 2016). It is critical to understand species distribution and habitat use to effectively protect existing populations.

How does GBIF-US tie in?

GBIF-US is helping us understand bee distribution and habitat use by sharing data from papers like, “Patterns of widespread decline in North American bumble bees” (Cameron et al., 2010). The dataset has been cited 143 times since it was first published to GBIF in 2019. The publisher, the USDA-ARS Pollinating Insects Research Unit, has published 8 other datasets, consisting of 3/4 of a million occurrences. In total, these datasets have been cited in 322 publications. Likewise, the USGS and USFWS have published over 1/2 a million occurrences of insect species. This dataset has contributed to 268 publications.


Ascher, J.S. & Pickering, J. (2020). Discover Life bee species guide and world checklist (Hymenoptera: Apoidea: Anthophila). DiscoverLife. Available at: http://www.discoverlife.org/mp/20q?guide=Apoidea_species

Droege S, Maffei C (2023). Insect Species Occurrence Data from Multiple Projects Worldwide with Focus on Bees and Wasps in North America. Version 1.10. United States Geological Survey. Occurrence dataset https://doi.org/10.15468/6autvb accessed via GBIF.org on 2024-05-21.

Potts, S.G., Biesmeijer, J.C., Kremen, C., Neumann, P., Schweiger, O. & Kunin, W.E. (2010) Global pollinator declines: trends, impacts and drivers. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 25, 345–353. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2010.01.007

Potts, S.G., Imperatriz-Fonseca, V., Ngo, H.T., Aizen, M.A., Biesmeijer, J.C., Breeze, T.D. et al. (2016) Safeguarding pollinators and their values to human well-being. Nature, 540, 220–229. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature20588

Strange J (2019). Patterns of widespread decline in North American bumble bees. USDA-ARS Pollinating Insect-Biology, Management, Systematics Research. Occurrence dataset https://doi.org/10.15468/kjpwz1 accessed via GBIF.org on 2024-05-21.