Israeli researchers find a new bee species, amid worries about declining swarms

Good News Notes:

Researchers studying the effect of eucalyptus trees on ecosystems in Israel have found and identified a new species of bee, amid concern over damage wreaked on wild populations due to habitat destruction and other causes.

Little is known yet about the new species, named Lasioglossum dorchini, but researchers plan to study it to learn about its lifestyle and habits, said Hebrew University entomologist Yael Mandelik.

It was found by accident by PhD student Karmit Levy at the Alexander Stream National Park at Bet Yannai Beach, north of Netanya.

‘It seems to be endemic to this kind of coastal environment, especially around the Alexander Stream,’ Mandelik said. ‘At this stage, we don’t know much more.’

The species was identified and described by Alain Pauly, a taxonomist (classifier of species) from the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences in Brussels. It’s name is in honor of Achik Dorchin, who curates the national bee collection at Tel Aviv University’s Steinhardt Museum of Natural History.

Israel, located at the junction of Asia, Africa and Europe, with habitats ranging from desert to Mediterranean scrub, is home to around 1,100 species of bees, out of around 20,000 known on earth.

However, there has never been any long-term monitoring of bee populations, meaning it’s unclear if the country is experiencing the same type of wild bee decline seen in the US and Europe.

Mandelik told the Times of Israel that it’s likely local wild bee populations have declined as they too are subject to the harmful effects decimating populations elsewhere: habitat destruction, pollution, pesticides and pathogens

Wild bees pollinate nearly 90% of the world’s wild flowering plant species, and complement the work of honeybees, which pollinate more than 75% of the world’s food crops and 35% of global agricultural land.”

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