Many studies have recently shown that bee populations are declining around the world. However, baseline data on bee species composition is lacking for most regions, which hinders the detection of changes in bee communities over time. Due to their key role in plant reproduction, documenting native bee communities is critical to assess the quantity and stability pollination services across different habitats.
Checklists provide valuable information about the species found in a defined region. We are developing an updated checklist of the bees of Pennsylvania, USA, using the first checklist published in 2010 as baseline data. Since then, thousands of additional bee specimens have been collected and databased in the state, new species have been described in the region, new invasive species have arrived, and the taxonomic status of some bee species has changed. Therefore, frequent revisions are imperative to detect changes in pollinator communities and declines in bee species.
Our approach has been to review (1) new specimen data from insect collections, (2) published scientific literature, (3) specimen databases from monitoring studies, and (4) public records such as those available at the Discover Life website. We are also collecting information about the social behavior, nesting habitat, body size, phenology, and diet breadth of each bee species.