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New wild bee species discovered in Michigan

Kim Phillips
Michigan State University
A new bee species found in Michigan, Triepeolus eliseae

Michigan is home to more species of wild bees than has been previously known, according to the first census made of wild bee species in the state. 

"Overall we found that there's 465 species of wild bees in Michigan," said Michigan State University professor Rufus Isaacs, co-leader of the project. "And interestingly, 38 of those were new species that hadn't been seen before in the state of Michigan."

Isaacs said it's important to understand wild bees – not just honey bees managed by bee keepers – because both benefit agriculture and the environment and because of the declining population of honey bees.

According to Isaacs, wild bees, like honeybees, pollinate flowers, fruits, and vegetables.

"Wild bees have been estimated to provide approximately $4 billion to the U.S. economy through their work pollinating crops," said Isaacs. 

Isaacs said Michigan's wild bee census will assist scientists to learn more about how to protect bee populations.