Bee research

Ivy bee, Colletes hederae © USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab

Principal Investigator

Dr Michael Kuhlmann

Project summary

  • Focus: The evolutionary history of bees and which environmental aspects affect their diversity
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There are about 25,000 bee species worldwide and they are providing essential ecosystem services as pollinators in natural and agricultural ecosystems.

Bees are the most important pollinators of flowering plants and crops. Our research is based on the evolutionary history of bees and which environmental aspects affect their diversity.

Colletes research

The bee genus Colletes comprises almost 500 described species. With an estimated total of 700 species, it is one of the major bee genera of the world.

The main components of this project are:

  • to study the taxonomy and systematics of Colletes bees
  • to understand the phylogeny and distribution history of this genus
  • to examine the floral relationships of Palaearctic Colletes species.

Bee diversity in South Africa

Regions with a Mediterranean climate such as the Greater Cape Floristic Region in the southwest of Africa tend to have high bee diversity, making this an ideal place to study the evolution of bees and plant-pollinator relationships.

Our bee research in South Africa aims to:

  • describe bee diversity
  • investigate diversity patterns
  • study bee-plant relationships to understand the processes of diversification in the Greater Cape Floristic Region using oil-collecting Rediviva bees and theirDiascia host plants as a model.

Checklist of Western Palaeartic Bees

This website provides up to date information on the taxonomy and distribution of bees in the western Palaearctic region. Visit the Scratchpad.

Biodiversity research

We are creating molecular and digital tools to explore undiscovered biodiversity

Insect research

Our scientists are conserving and investigating the Museum's collections to help with cutting edge research

Entomology collections

Browse the oldest and most important entomology collection in the world of over 34 million insects and arachnids