A quarter of bee species haven’t been seen in decades

The giant Patagonian bumblebee (Bombus dahlbomii) was abundant in Chile and Argentina four decades ago but they are an uncommon sight now. Credit: Eduardo Zattara

About a quarter of bee native bee species haven’t been seen in several decades, according to a recent study published in One Earth. The analysis of bee sightings around the world since 1900 relied on the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, a database of records from museum specimens, private collections and naturalists’ observations. Researchers found that in the period between 2006 and 2015, these records contained about 25% fewer bee species than in the period between 1946 and 1995. The findings align with reports showing a decline of insect species around the world.

“When we talk about bees, we’re talking about 20,000 species of bees and not just the honey bee,” study co-author Eduardo Zattara told The Scientist magazine.

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