Hymenoptera collections

Magnified image of shiny blue parasitoid waspTrigonoderus filatus

Magnified image of shiny blue parasitoid waspTrigonoderus filatus

The Museum houses one of the largest collections of Hymenoptera in the world, with over three million pinned specimens.


The collection is rich in type specimens and includes historical material from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, such as that collected by Charles Darwin and Henry Walter Bates, the Amazonian explorer.

The collection is actively growing, with recent collecting efforts focussed on supporting current research projects.   

Recent collections include:

  • Hymenoptera from Bolivia
  • Hymenoptera from the Russian Far East
  • Bees from South Africa
  • Chalcidoidea from Costa Rica
  • The Hedqvist collection, particularly rich in European Chalcidoidea

Major collections

  • William Kirby (1759-1850)
  • Francis Walker (1809-1874)
  • Edward Saunders (1848-1910)
  • Marcus William Robert de Vere Graham (1915-1995)
  • British Microgastrinae
  • Frederick Smith (1805 - 1879)
  • Rothschild, N. Charles (1877–1923)
  • Rowland Turner (-1945)
  • Friedrich (Fritz) Plaumann (1902 - 1994)
  • Kenneth Mackinnon Guichard (1914-2002)
  • Ian Gauld (1947-2009)

Country of origin

Countries/ areas mentioned: Bolivia, Russia, South Africa, Costa Rica, Europe, Britain, Australia, Brazil, North Africa.  

Looking for a specific specimen?

The hymenoptera collection is being digitised

Senior curator

David Notton

Any questions?

If you would like to use any specimens for research, please get in touch


Accessing the collections

Scientists and collections management specialists can visit the collections and borrow specimens for research.

Collections management

Our duty is to provide a safe and secure environment for all of our collections.