Question: What kind of ecosystem has the most bee species?

Answered by Jess Mullins, a PhD student at the University of California San Diego 

Bees are most diverse in deserts!

Tropical areas around the equator, like the Amazon rainforest, have the most types of plants and animals in the world. This is where most types of  butterflies, beetles, and frogs are found. The weather in the tropics is warm and humid all year round.

Bees are different. There are more than 20,000 types of bees. And tropical areas actually have fewer types of bees than deserts or temperate regions.

Bees are most diverse in warm and dry places like deserts. A group of scientists recently counted over 400 species of bees in the Chihuahuan desert of North America!

Have you ever heard of a desert superbloom, where masses of wildflowers bloom at the same time? A superbloom happens in the spring after there has been plenty of rain. All of these flowers need a pollinator, like a bee. Even if it is not a superbloom year, spring flowering is a good time to spot many different types of bees in a desert.

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Bee resources

Virtual bee exhibit from Museum of the Earth: Bees: diversity, evolution, conservation

Excellent resource on bee biology from Museum of the Earth : Bee-Ology

Macro photographs from the USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab:

Megachile otomita, f, side, costa rica_PMax UDR 01 copy

Comprehensive resource on honey bees from ASU Ask a Biologist: Bee Bonanza

Bee activity book about bees of Oregon and how they help make food, from, OSU, and other partners

Graphics: designed by Megan Strauss via

Editors: Megan Strauss, David Brown for Mongabay Kids

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