New bee discovered in Toronto - Nueva clase de abeja en Toronto

New bees discovered by York researcher triggers buzz - They had me just with the title (article published by The Toronto Star on Sep. 1, 2010). 

At last, finally, some positive news about bees, my favourite insect, not just news about their mysterious and worrisome disappearance. Turns out, there is a new type of "sweat" bee, discovered right downtown in Toronto (near the College subway station), by the researcher Jason Gibbs, known to some as the "bee guru" (what a cool nickname to have). The photo below is not the one of the newly discovered species, but it is one of the same family of "sweat bees".

Lasioglossum Dialictus Pilosum - Sweat bee - Copyright © 2009 Ted Kropiewnicki

After following links from the news article, I find out that his thesis has been published in a single issue of the publication Zootaxa, titled: "Revision of the metallic species of Lasioglossum (Dialictus) in Canada (Hymenoptera, Halictidae, Halictini)". But the newspaper article does not do justice to his findings. As the paper abstract mentions, 19 new species are described, 16 of which have been discovered by him! (if my counting is right). His thesis identifies and describes 84 species of sweat bees.

Some of the interesting facts mentioned in his thesis:

    "The bee family Halictidae has been called 'the despair of taxonomists'" due to the large number of species and the subtle differences between them (there are 274 species just in North America, out of a total 630 species)."

    "The bee subgenus Dialictus has "the most diverse social systems of any equivalent group of insects."

    "They are known as "sweat bees" due to their attraction to perspiration."

    And finally, these bees are also known for not stinging!

The name of the new bee discovered in Toronto? Lasioglossum ephialtum. I'm not sure I will be able to remember it, but I will keep in mind that a new species was discovered right downtown!

P.S. On a final related note, after searching for an image to use in this post, I found a couple of very useful and interesting sites: The Tree of Life Web Project, which is a collaborative effort of biologists and nature enthusiasts around the world. They have more than 10,000 web pages, each for a particular group in the tree of life, all ordered hierarchically and giving their characteristics and evolutionary history. I would highly recommend it to those interested in nature. The other site, the Bug Guide, is a resource for naturalists from the U.S.A. and Canada, who are interested in bugs and want to learn about and share their observations on many types of insects found in North America.

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