Museum Collections Help Identify Four New Species of Bees in New York City

by AMNH on

News Posts

A hole in the ground indicating a bee nest.
A Gotham bee nests underground. Credit: Louise Lynch/University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Researchers have uncovered four new species of bees in New York City, one of which has an especially fitting name: Lasioglossum gotham. The newly described city dwellers are among 11 East Coast bees recently identified by Cornell University postdoctoral researcher Jason Gibbs in the journal Zootaxa with the help of vast digital and physical bee collections at the American Museum of Natural History.

All of the newly discovered species are sweat bees—small-to-medium-sized bees named for their attraction to the salt in human sweat.

“Declines in honey bees and other bees have received a lot of attention in recent years, but it is not generally appreciated that bee species entirely new to science are still being discovered even within our largest cities. New York City has a surprising diversity of bees, with more than 250 described species recorded,” said John Ascher, a research scientist in the Museum’s Division of Invertebrate Zoology who collected and curated specimens of some of the new species.

In addition to L. gotham, which was found in the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx and in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the three other New York City bees include Lasioglossum ascheri, named for Ascher and classified from just two specimens found in Westchester and Suffolk counties; L. katherinae from Brooklyn and Nassau County; L. rozeni, named for Jerome Rozen, Jr., curator of bees in the Museum’s Division of Invertebrate Zoology, and found in Suffolk County; and L. georgeickworti from Queens and Nassau and Suffolk counties.

Bees are the most important pollinators in the Northeastern United States, fertilizing plants as they fly from flower to flower on pollen-collecting missions. The discovery of new bee species in New York City and the vicinity highlights the need for additional study of native bee diversity across the country, Gibbs said.

For more information, see the official Museum press release.

Image on homepage: A side view of Lasioglossum gotham, a new species that was discovered in the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx and in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Credit: Jason Gibbs/Cornell University