Researchers discover new bee here in Oklahoma

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A new species of bee has been discovered right here in Oklahoma.

According to the researchers who found it, the bee is native to Oklahoma, living in Blaine and Ellis counties.

The new bee is named Anthidium-Michener-Orum after influential bee biologist Charles Duncan Michener and his wife Mary.

This bee does not live in a colony, it's more solitary.

It also does not make honey.

However, researchers say it plays an important role in the pollination of wild and cultivated plants.

This new Okie Bee was discovered by Dr. Victor Gonzalez Betancourt, an assistant professor at Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford.

Southwestern Oklahoma State has more information on this new bee species.

Courtesy SouthWestern State University in Weatherford

Courtesy SouthWestern State University in Weatherford

“Although most people think of bees merely as honey bees, in reality there are more than 20,000 bee species worldwide,” Betancourt said. “One-quarter of this diversity occurs in North America, particularly in the western United States.”

Like most bees, the new bee from Oklahoma does not live in colonies nor does it make honey. However, it plays an important role in the pollination of wild and cultivated plants. Betancourt said bees are the most important pollinators of plants on the planet and their greatest abundance and diversity is in warm-temperate and dry areas.

“The United States has almost twice the number of native bee species found in Brazil,” said Dr. Terry L. Griswold, a scientist at the USDA bee lab in Logan, Utah and coauthor of the research article published this summer in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.

Researchers have estimated that in North America alone bees are essential to the production of about 3 billion dollars worth of fruit each year. Thus, recent studies of populations and species declines worldwide have raised global environmental and economic concern.

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