The bee collection of American Museum of Natural History is one of the most diverse in the world, including at least 7100 described, identified species of which 1174 are represented by holotypes, and many additional morphospecies. The bee collection is large and growing rapidly, including about 475,000 bee specimens identified at least to genus, most to species. The collection is global, with greatest strengths in the Neotropics, Nearctic, Africa, and the western and central Palearctic, and significant holdings from other areas. A highlight of the collection is the immature stages, nests, and associated adults and parasites collected by Jerome G. Rozen, Jr. This is by far the most comprehensive and valuable collection of its type, as it includes the first and only collections of nests and immatures for many bee genera and tribes. Historical specimens of great importance to bee taxonomists include authentic material from the two most prolific describers of bees, Cockerell and Friese. The AMNH houses holotypes and other vouchers of hundreds of species described by Cockerell from all biogeographic regions, and an exceptionally diverse synoptic collection of bees purchased from H. Friese in the 1920s, including paratypes and other representatives of rare species from all continents.
The Herbert F. Schwarz collection assembled from the 1920s-1940s includes the most important historical collections of Meliponini and of Neotropical Anthidiini, and vouchers from his study of Barro Colorado Island bees, one of the first attempts to characterize a tropical bee fauna. C.D. Michener material includes vouchers from his classic studies of the bees of southern Mississippi and of Panama. Other historic material includes extensive collections made in the late 19th and early 20th century from the New York City vicinity, North Carolina, Colorado, and elsewhere in the United States. Foreign material from early expeditions includes very long series from the Lang-Chapin Congo Expedition and from William Beebe's field work in Guyana. Rozen material, with vouchers for biological studies, includes long series from field trips to South Africa, Namibia, Morocco, Turkey, Egypt, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Israel, Trinidad, Chile, Argentina, Mexico, the southwestern USA, and elsewhere. Ascher material includes bees from areas such as California, Arizona, Chile, Turkey, Honduras, and Belize. In addition to specimens obtained by AMNH researchers, the collection also houses significant collections made by foreign specialists thanks to the generous support of Robert G. Goelet, Chairman Emeritus, Board of Trustees, American Museum of Natural History, as follows: the M. Fritz collections from northwest Argentina, H. Toro material from Chile, Peña and Ugarte-Peña material from Chile and elsewhere in South America, C. Schmid-Egger material from the Palearctic, and G.I. Stage material from western North America and elsewhere.
Other recent acquisitions include vouchers from faunal surveys in New York State such as those of Black Rock Forest, New York City parks and community gardens, and Gardiner's Island. The collection is rapidly expanding through continued collecting by AMNH researchers, including wasp specialist James Carpenter, and an active exchange program with other collections and donations of vouchers from collaborating taxonomists and ecologists continues to fill in remaining gaps in species holdings.
Curator-in-Charge: Dr. Jerome Rozen
Collection Assistant: Eli Wyman