New Bee Species Discovered During Downtown Toronto Commute

sweat bee photo

Example of a sweat bee -- Metallic colored sweat bee species are diverse, and difficult to identify to which species a specimen belongs; photo via zackzen via Flickr Creative Commons

Researchers Jason Gibbs who was working on a study of sweat bees discovered a new species while commuting from downtown Toronto to York University. It is one of 19 new species he found while examining 84 species of sweat bees in Canada -- so named because they are attracted to perspiration -- which are common in North America. His study goes a long way in cataloging a variety of bee that has proven a "nightmare" to study.

Science Daily reports that despite their numbers and status as an important pollinator, sweat bees are tough to study because it is hard to pin a specimen to a certain species.

"They are a nightmare to identify to species because their physical characteristics -- their morphologies -- are so similar among species. No one has been able to identify these bees until now even though they make up so many of the bees we collect," says Gibbs. "It's important to identify these species, because if we don't know what bees we have, we can't know what bees we're losing."

Taking the challenge head on, Gibbs was able to identify 19 new species of sweat bee, including a cuckoo bee, which will invade another sweat bee's next and lay its eggs on the pollen and nectar collected by the competitor.

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