Established in 2004 by the U.S. Geological Survey, the Bee Monitoring and Inventory Lab and its director, Sam Droege, were tasked with creating long-range surveys of bee populations to determine whether native bees are in decline. “We’re lacking a lot of data,” Droege says. Determining the health and status of native bee populations, though, depends on the ability to identify them in the first place.
So Droege created a database that currently contains approximately 1,400 high-resolution images (though more are continually being added) of bees and other species they mix with in the wild that biologists, citizen scientists and others have sent the USGS. The images were made using a macro lens at the bee lab in Maryland, creating images remarkable in detail that are used in guides and for identification purposes.
To read more about the work of the Bee Monitoring and Inventory Lab and others, read “The Secret Life of Native Bees” at Ensia, and to see more images from the USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab database, go to Sam Droege’s Flickr page.