Professor Laurence Packer in the Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, has created the first online image bank of the bee genera of the world. Almost all of the images are from his laboratory, where he houses a collection of more than 300,000 bee specimens.
“We wanted to create an online resource that anyone around the world can use, including scientists and students, to help them get an idea as to whether their identification of a bee might be correct,” explains Packer. “The tool is also a way for us to share our collection with others and showcase the incredible diversity of bees.”
He started his bee collection at York University nearly 30 years ago. The collection has now grown to be one of the most diverse in the world and the largest in Canada, representing more than 90 percent of the world’s known bee genera from more than 100 countries.
Packer and his team will continue updating and improving the image bank. He hopes to make it more interactive in the future, so that visitors to the site can click through a series of questions (for example, about the shape of the bee’s tongue or the veins on its wings) that will help them identify the genus of an unfamiliar bee more easily.
On Packer’s website there is also an image bank for nearly all of Canada’s 800-plus bee species, as well as a visual key to identify the bee families of the world that was funded by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
To see the Bee Genera of the World image bank, visit http://www.yorku.ca/bugsrus/resources/galleries/bgow.