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Slideshow: The Dazzling Diversity of Bees

Slideshow: The Dazzling Diversity of Bees

This selection of images showcases a few examples of the many unfamiliar -- and often threatened -- wild bees from around the world.

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A female Martinapis luteicornis from Arizona. 

Monday, January 23, 2017 - 04:30

Nala Rogers, Staff Writer

(Inside Science) -- Think of a bee. Chances are you are picturing a western honey bee, an Afro-Eurasian species commonly raised by beekeepers. But western honey bees are just one of more than 20,000 bee species in the world. Unlike honey bees, most wild bee species are solitary, and many specialize on one or a few types of flowers. They come in a dazzling variety of colors, shapes and textures, and they range in size from smaller than a sesame seed to larger than a walnut.

Here, we present a small sampling of bees photographed by the U.S. Geological Survey's Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab in Beltsville, Maryland. All the images are in the public domain. You can learn about wild bees and the threats they face from managed bees in this Inside Science feature, or in this video. To see more bees, visit the lab's Flickr page, or take a closer look at what's buzzing in your garden.


A male orchid bee, species unknown, from Guyana.

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Author Bio & Story Archive

Nala Rogers is a staff writer and editor at Inside Science, where she covers the Earth and Creature beats. She has a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Utah and a graduate certificate in science communication from U.C. Santa Cruz. Before joining Inside Science, she wrote for diverse outlets including Science, Nature, the San Jose Mercury News, and Scientific American. In her spare time she likes to explore wilderness.