An article in the New York Times highlights the role of entomological collections in understanding the decline of bee species. Although the plight of honeybee species has garnered much attention in recent years, many species of wild bees are also in trouble.
To understand why, a group of researchers looked at bee specimens from the American Museum of Natural History, the New York State Museum, and several collections housed at universities. The scientists documented that the diversity of bees in New England declined by 15 percent over the last 140 years.
By identifying the types of pollen stuck to the specimens’ legs, the researchers were able to document changes in the availability of native plant that are food sources for pollinators.