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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

U.S. National Pollinating Insects Collection

Insects: U.S. National Pollinating Insects Collection

U.S. National Pollinating Insects Collection

By Terry Griswold
Location U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Bee Biology and Systematics Laboratory, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322-5310
Loans To recognized institutions and scientists
15,000 reprints
Number of
6,850 species of bees (worldwide) and 2,850 species of wasps and other insect nest associates in 1,600 museum drawers (800,000 specimens)
Types Many, mostly paratypes

Terry Griswold
Phone: (801) 797-2526, fax: (801) 797-0461

Home page None

Background The U.S. National Pollinating Insects Collection provides the basis for systematic and biological studies on pollinating insects from many parts of the world. The collection was started in 1947 by G.E. Bohart. It has expanded rapidly through acquisitions of biological material and exchanges with other institutions. Bohart contributed many specimens, as have P.F. Torchio, F.D. Parker, V.J. Tepedino, and T. Griswold. Bohart, Parker, and Torchio are now Federal collaborators and have been active in working with the collection and providing new accessions.
Each year many requests for identifications of pollinating insects are received directly from research scientists, bee systematists, graduate students, state and county farm advisors and extension agents, bee breeders, seed growers, and others. Identifications of bees are also provided for the Systematic Entomology Laboratory under a cooperative agreement. An average of 44 lots (4,500 specimens) are processed annually. Additional requests are made by taxpayers for bee information, including the analysis and causes of bee stock losses due to parasites or predators.
Databases An inventory of the collection provides a list of holdings, numbers of specimens per species, and geographic distribution. A specimen-based databank of the bees in the collection has been undertaken and is more than half done, with completion anticipated in 1997 or 1998. Data capture of all future incoming material will be accomplished using individual specimen bar codes, facilitating the electronic exchange of information. A computerized checklist of North American bees (including bees from Central America) has been completed and will be regularly updated. Computerized catalogs of Megachilidae and Colletidae are in development. These databases are not currently available on the World Wide Web. Inquiries should be addressed to the Bee Biology and Systematics Laboratory.
Research The U.S. National Pollinating Insects Collection is essential in promoting the ARS missions of improving crop pollination, conserving genetic resources, and preserving biodiversity. The Bee Biology and Systematics Laboratory is responsible for studies of pollinating insects, primarily bees, including their adult and immature systematics, biology, associated predators and parasites, role in plant pollination, and use as crop pollinators. As a rich resource of nearly 4,000 species of native bees in the United States alone, this collection aids in accurate identifications of potential pollinators. Such identifications are essential for ongoing basic and applied pollination research. Systematic research focuses on bee taxa with high potential for management (Megachilidae) and their parasites (Stelis, Coelioxys). The importance of pollinators in the maintenance of native ecosystems and particularly of rare plant species is a secondary focus of research.

1953 Domesticated first native bee, Nomia melanderi, resulting in over a twentyfold increase in alfalfa seed production
1960 Assisted in developing multimillion-dollar leafcutter bee industry
1973 Developed method to control leafcutter bee parasite, saving the alfalfa seed industry millions of dollars
1975 Developed blue orchard bee, Osmia lignaria, which augments honey bee pollination of orchard crops
1990 Developed Osmia ribifloris as pollinator of highbush blueberry
1993 Analyzed the pollination and reproductive biology of 26 species of threatened and endangered plant species in the western United States (fig. 15)

Figure 15. Perdita meconis, a new species pollinating Arctomecon californica, one of many rare plants dependent on native bees for reproduction Figure 15. Perdita meconis,
a new species pollinating
Arctomecon californica,
one of many rare plants
dependent on native bees
for reproduction

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Last Modified: 2/6/2002
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