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Bees at the Museum

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A box contains labeled specimens of the common eastern bumble bee.
Bombus impatiens, the common eastern bumblebee, is one of 200 bumblebee species represented in the Museum’s collection. Bumblees account for about 5 percent of the Museum’s total bee collection.
D. Finnin/© AMNH

The Museum’s Division of Invertebrate Zoology collection is its largest, with more than 23 million specimens comprising about 500,000 species—many of them bees. Our renowned collection of Hymenoptera Apoidea, or bees and wasps, is one of the most diverse in the world. Here’s a closer look, by the numbers.

 

750,000

The number of specimens in the Museum’s bee collection, one of the largest in the world. Nearly all of the 20,000 known bee species are represented. The majority are solitary bees, but Curator Emeritus Jerome Rozen has helped amass what is likely the world’s largest collection of eggs, larvae, and pupae.

 

35,000

Bumblebee specimens—of which 200 species are represented, or about 5 percent of the total collection.

Boxes containing specimens from the American Museum of Natural History’s bee collection.
Recent specimens in the collection include bees, wasps, and flies collected by Museum scientists on the High Line in New York City.
D. Finnin/© AMNH

 

1,174

Bee type specimens, or specimens that are used to scientifically describe a particular species, in the Museum’s collection.

 

40%

Specimens in the Museum’s bee collection included in the American Museum Bee Database Project, an initiative that archives and georeferences data from museum specimens and is used to study changes in worldwide bee populations.

 

1%

Specimens in the collections that are honey bees, the most widely-known bee group.

 

Exhibits about honey bees and other pollinators will be a major feature of the new Susan and Peter Solomon Family Insectarium, part of the Museum’s Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation.